An ultra-thin digital camera that can take clear pictures in a moonlit night without the need for a flash may be around the corner if a research success, achieved by physicists in Bangalore, finds itself a place in the technological arena. A group of young researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has come out with the new device that may eventually replace the silicon-based systems at the heart of every digital camera, from the high-end professional ones to the ordinary ones found in almost every household.
Since the new device allows detection of faint objects from a very long distance, it can lead to high resolution photography even in dark conditions. “It will be possible to do photography in moonlight sans flash with a regular household digital camera,” IISc physicist and team leader Arindam Ghosh told At the heart of every digital camera lies either a charge coupled device (CCD) or a silicon-based semiconductor technology called CMOS for capturing the image. But both are minnows when compared with the IISc device, which is a billion times more sensitive than existing digital cameras. It is, in fact, the most sensitive photo detector in the world at the moment. “A one-metre by one-metre detector made out of our material will be able to detect a candle light at one-third of the distance between the earth and the moon (more than 1 lakh km),” said Mr Kallol Roy, one of the team members. The device relies on a new material architecture made out of graphene and molybdenum disulphide. The material is layered in structures of atomic dimension using sophisticated nano-technology tools. The properties of both graphene – a wonder nanotechnology material – and molybdenum change dramatically at the atomic level, giving rise to such spectacular property of the new device.