Graphene Sensor Allows Clear Photographs In Dim Light

By G.P. Thomas

Wonder material graphene could hold the key to crystal clear photographs, even in dim light.

New sensor a thousand times more sensitive than current camera sensors. Image credit: Nanyang Technological University

A new sensor made from graphene is thought to be 1000 times more sensitive to light than imaging sensors currently seen in cameras, potentially giving rise to widespread innovations across the field of imaging.

The sensor was invented at the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering of Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore by Assistant Professor Wang Qijie, aided by a team from the University.

The results have been published in the research journal Nature Communications.

Five times cheaper

There are a myriad of potential benefits that could arise from this recent invention. For

instance, as the graphene sensor operates at a relatively low voltage, it will use a relatively small amount of energy – up to 10 times less than current sensors. This could lead to a proportional increase in the battery life of cameras.

Also, it is estimated that if the graphene sensor were to be mass produced, it would be at least five times cheaper than traditional sensors, which would ultimately pass savings on to the end user.

Furthermore, the innovative new sensor can be used across a range of imaging devices, from infrared cameras and traffic speed cameras, to satellite imaging and handheld digital cameras.

“We have shown that it is now possible to create cheap, sensitive and flexible photo sensors from graphene alone” said Assistant Professor Wang Qijie in a recent press release.

“We expect our innovation will have great impact not only on the consumer imaging industry, but also in satellite imaging and communication industries, as well as the mid-infrared applications,”

Unique graphene nano structures

The secret to the new sensor, which can detect a broad spectrum light with high sensitivity, lies in the unique graphene nano structures.

Compared to normal CCD or CMOS sensors found in cameras, the graphene structure ‘traps’ electrons for longer, leading to a strong electrical signal which is then converted into an image.

This high photoresponse leads to sharper images, even in low light conditions.

Stream of beneficial properties

Graphene, though only discovered in 2004, has captivated and tantalised researchers and

manufactures alike with its seemingly endless stream of beneficial properties. Posited applications have ranged from flexible touchscreens to lighting within walls, and there is currently a huge amount of funding and research power behind graphene.

Yet, there are some who question whether it can repeat the successes of the research lab on an industrial scale.

Below are the thoughts of Asst Prof. Wang Qijie on this issue:

“While designing this sensor, we have kept current manufacturing practices in mind. This means the industry can in principle continue producing camera sensors using the CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) process, which is the prevailing technology used by the majority of factories in the electronics industry.

Therefore manufacturers can easily replace the current base material of photo sensors with our new nano-structured graphene material.”

So it looks like graphene could light the way in the world of imaging after all.

Original source:Nanyang Technological University

Date Added: May 31, 2013 | Updated: Jan 15, 2014
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