Inspired by mammals' eyes, University of Wisconsin-Madison electrical engineers have created the fastest, most responsive flexible silicon phototransistor ever made.
The innovative phototransistor could improve the performance of myriad products -- ranging from digital cameras, night-vision goggles and smoke detectors to surveillance systems and satellites -- that rely on electronic light sensors. Integrated into a digital camera lens, for example, it could reduce bulkiness and boost both the acquisition speed and quality of video or still photos.
Developed by UW-Madison collaborators Zhenqiang "Jack" Ma, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and research scientist Jung-Hun Seo, the high-performance phototransistor far and away exceeds all previous flexible phototransistor parameters, including sensitivity and response time.
The researchers published details of their advance this week in the journal Advanced Optical Materials.
Like human eyes, phototransistors essentially sense and collect light, then convert that light into an electrical charge proportional to its intensity and wavelength. In the case of our eyes, the electrical impulses transmit the image to the brain. In a digital camera, that electrical charge becomes the long string of 1s and 0s that create the digital image.
While many phototransistors are fabricated on rigid surfaces, and therefore are flat, Ma and Seo's are flexible, meaning they more easily mimic the behavior of mammalian eyes.
"We actually can make the curve any shape we like to fit the optical system," Ma says. "Currently, there's no easy way to do that."
One important aspect of the success of the new phototransistors is the researchers' innovative "flip-transfer" fabrication method, in which their final step is to invert the finished phototransistor onto a plastic substrate. At that point, a reflective metal layer is on the bottom.
"In this structure -- unlike other photodetectors -- light absorption in an ultrathin silicon layer can be much more efficient because light is not blocked by any metal layers or other materials," Ma says.
The researchers also placed electrodes under the phototransistor's ultrathin silicon nanomembrane layer -- and the metal layer and electrodes each act as reflectors and improve light absorption without the need for an external amplifier.
"There's a built-in capability to sense weak light," Ma says.
Ultimately, the new phototransistors open the door of possibility, he says.
"This demonstration shows great potential in high-performance and flexible photodetection systems," says Ma, whose work was supported by the U.S. Air Force. "It shows the capabilities of high-sensitivity photodetection and stable performance under bending conditions, which have never been achieved at the same time."
The researchers are patenting the technology through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
CONTACT: Zhenqiang "Jack" Ma, (608) 261-1095, email@example.com
Renee Meiller, (608) 262-2481, firstname.lastname@example.org
Zhenqiang 'Jack' Ma | EurekAlert!
Ultra-precise chip-scale sensor detects unprecedentedly small changes at the nanoscale
18.01.2017 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Data analysis optimizes cyber-physical systems in telecommunications and building automation
18.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Algorithmen und Wissenschaftliches Rechnen SCAI
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
18.01.2017 | Life Sciences