Canon announced it produced the world's largest CMOS sensor. At 20 cm square, the new sensor is nearly eight inches on each side, rightly qualifies as large-format, and already helped scientists make an incredible discovery.
According to Canon, with the ability to capture "60 frames per second with only 0.3 lux of illumination (approximately the same level of brightness as that generated by full moon)," the sensor was able to help confirm the existence and frequency of extremely faint meteors that had only theoretically existed until now, as this is the first sensor that has been able to record them. This "technology could lead to an increased understanding of the influence that meteors may have exerted on the development of life on Earth."
The sensor is the largest that can be produced on a standard 12-inch silicon wafer, as it features a massive 11-inch diagonal. It is unclear what the actual resolution of this sensor is, but it is naturally the most sensitive in the world. Of course, it's one thing to put it inside the University of Tokyo's 105 cm Schmidt camera at the Kiso Observatory that led to the faint meteor discovery. But handling this sensor in a camera body big enough to house and manage it would be a whole separate issue — if you could even find a way to do it, that is. But even with all that effort behind you, what would you do with a sensor with a surface area nearing that of an 8 x 10 negative?
Update: This sensor was announced back in 2010, but its applications in astronomy recently led to the discovery about the frequency of meteor activity around Earth.