January 28, 2014

A highlight for low light

By: Larry Rulison

Source: Times Union

Nanosheets discovery creates crisper results in imaging devices


A group of researchers at the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering have discovered that a special super-thin layer of nanomaterial could dramatically improve how cameras work — especially when there isn't a lot of light.

The researchers, working under the direction of nanoengineering professor Bin Yu, have found a way to create "nanosheets" of indium selenide only 3.9 nanometers thick, which means they are not visible to the naked eye. They said the nanosheets could work dramatically better than the photosensor materials used in today's cameras and imaging devices, which have trouble creating crisp images in low light.

The results of the work were published recently in ACS Nano, a monthly publication of the American Chemical Society.

Robin Jacobs-Gedrim, a research assistant on the project, said the discovery has been "received very well" by the scientific community, which has long been looking for advantages of using similar nanomaterials that will often have special physical qualities because of their size. Another example is graphene, small strands of graphite that have vastly different properties — and are much stronger — than graphite.

One strand of indium selenide, a man-made molecule, is only a few atoms thick. The indium selenide "nanosheets" include about four strands.

Current photosensor materials used in cameras are also much larger than the indium selenide nanosheets, and can become contaminated more often because of the process by which they are made. If the indium selenide nanosheets are ever commercially made, they could potentially cost a lot less and last a lot longer in addition to performing better.

The technology could also be used in solar cells and other devices that use semiconductor material.

"We see a lot of potential consumer opportunities," Yu said.

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