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World’s Fastest, Most Flexible Phototransistor Created By UW-Madison Engineers

Flexible Phototransistor By UW-Madison

Electrical engineers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have just set a record in flexible phototransistor technology that could be a game changer for digital cameras, satellites and other technology that relies on electronic light sensors.

The new phototransistor that the engineers recently unveiled is not only the most responsive flexible silicon phototransistor to date, it’s also the fastest.

The new technology, which was inspired by the eyes of mammals, has the potential to increase both the speed at which video and stills are captured as well as their quality. It also has the potential to reduce the bulkiness of the equipment it goes into.

This new phototransistor technology, which was developed by research scientist Jung-Hun Seo and professor Zhenqiang “Jack” Ma of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, finds its mammal origins in its shape — a flexible design that, according to Ma, can be adjusted “to fit” the curve and shape of “any” optical system.

We actually can make the curve any shape we like to fit the optical system (…) Currently, there’s no easy way to do that

In regards to their work, which was supported by the United States Air Force, Ma noted in a university press release that the innovative new technology demonstrates “great potential in high-performance and flexible photodetection systems” and that it also “shows the capabilities of high-sensitivity photodetection and stable performance under bending conditions, which have never been achieved at the same time.”

The researchers, who are in the process of patenting their new technology through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), published the details of their research in the journal Advanced Optical Materials.

In addition to its ability to possibly improve digital cameras and satellites, the new phototransistor also harbors the potential to improve night-vision goggles, surveillance systems and smoke detectors — among other things.

Due to its design, the phototransistor has what Ma referred to as “a built-in capacity to sense weak light.”

Ma explained that unlike in other photodetectors, light absorption “can be much more efficient” in an ultra-thin silicon layer “because light is not blocked by any metal layers or other materials.”

Back in September of this year, Canon announced a new 250MP CMOS sensor with video resolution surpassing that of 4K.

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