Researchers at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have developed a graphene image sensor one thousand times more sensitive to anything available on the market today. The sensor is capable of detecting broad spectrum light, making it a great solution for all types of cameras. Its uses could include traffic cameras, infrared cameras, and so forth.
The sensor is able to produce clearer images than image sensors in use today, particularly in low-light situations, thanks to the fact it’s able to trap light-generated electrons for longer times than current sensors. In addition, the sensor operates at a low voltage, effectively using 10 times less energy than today’s sensors. Mass produced, they could also be cheaper than sensors today.
“We have shown that it is now possible to create cheap, sensitive and flexible photo sensors from graphene alone. 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,” said Wang Qijie.
With regard to future adoption of graphene sensors in cameras, Assistant Professor Wang feels the sensors have to potential to go mainstream:
“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.”
Graphene is about a million times smaller than the thickness of a human hair, and is formed as pure carbon atoms in a honeycomb structure. It is known to be highly conductive, and its physical properties allow for flexibility and durability.
Image credits: Nanyang Technological University