New “photodetector” nanotechnology allows photos in near darkness

When the lights went out at the big game, fans and film crews struggled to take a decent picture in the darkness. Those same folks will be cheering the latest research by a team of SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) scientists, which makes brilliant video and pictures possible even if the lights go out.

Dark and blurry low light photos could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to the development of game-changing ultrathin “nanosheets,” which could dramatically improve imaging technology used in everything from cell phone cameras, video cameras, solar cells, and even medical imaging equipment such as MRI machines.

This pioneering research, which was published in ACS Nano, would also be cost-effective to implement. The ultrathin indium(III) selenide (In2Se3) –based photodetectors use less material because they consist of nano-sized components that are highly efficient at detecting light in real-time. As a result, this technology is perfectly suited for inclusion in a wide variety of everyday devices, including today’s smartphones, which are often used to take pictures, but suffer from limitations in low light environments. This research could allow even novice photographers to take sharper images, even in the midst of a blackout during the biggest game of the year.

“Currently, the sensors in digital cameras cannot take quality images under low-light conditions. For example, taking a good picture in a dimly lit room requires a long exposure, which often results in a blurred image. Hollywood needs to use special lights and filters to make a scene appear dark because filming must be done in well-lit conditions. Future cameras based on these nanosheet photodetectors may be able to provide a robust, real-time picture in even the most extreme low light conditions.” said Robin Jacobs-Gedrim, CNSE Research Assistant. “Our work could also lead to next-generation applications, making solar panels more efficient, scientific instruments more precise, and medical imaging equipment even more accurate, which shows the power of CNSE’s nano-based research to find technological solutions for a range of industries.”

“We are thrilled to share the findings of this CNSE research team as it showcases the college’s leading-edge capabilities to improve everyday technologies,” said Dr. Bin Yu, CNSE Professor of Nanoengineering. “This research is exciting not only because it is a further testament to the caliber of CNSE’s scientists and state-of-the-art facilities, but also because it could lead to more efficient imaging devices for the improvement of healthcare, the advancement of real-time video recording, and the development of more efficient photovoltaics, all of which have the potential to improve countless lives.”

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