Not content to just turn paint into a power source, revolutionise headphones, suck pollution out of oceans, bestow us with hyper-fast upload times, and pretty much anything else you can dream up, graphene is at it once again. And this time, the supermaterial that keeps on giving is opening the door to better low-light photos in the form of an image sensor that can catch light 1,000 times better than traditional sensors. Oh, and it uses 10 times less energy, too.
By trapping and holding light-generated electron particles for far longer than most sensors, the graphene version can take much clearer pictures with much less light. Plus, crafted from a single sheet of graphene by Assitant Professor Wang Qijie, who led the Nanyang Technological University research team, the sensor can detect broad spectrum light — from visibile all the way to mid-infrared. So it has the potential to be used in any type of camera including infrared cameras, traffic speeding cameras, and satellite imaging, to name just a few. And it shouldn't be too hard to implement, according to Professor Wang:
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 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.
Plus, it's going to be five times cheaper than the traditional, inferior CMOS and CCD sensors. And while there's still no set time frame for when we'll start actually seeing these bad boys in the wild, the research team is currently working with "industry collaborators" on developing a viable commercial produce. All hail the mighty graphene. [Science Daily via Engadget]