Breakthrough: New flexible phototransistor smashes records

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have made a breakthrough in phototransistor technology, offering high resolution under extremely stressful situations.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin have created a new super-flexible phototransistor that has proven to be the most responsive design to date. According to a report from UPI, scientists were stunned to realize that the silicon phototransistor smashed previously held sensitivity and response records.

The new phototransistor can be incorporated into a wide range of devices, sharpening the signal in digital cameras, night-vision goggles, medical imaging instruments, and even satellites.

The phototransistor holds great promise for the future of digital cameras, allowing photographers to capture images in low-light situations.

A phototransistor isn’t too different from an animal’s eye. It gathers light and translates it into an electrical signal. In mammalian eyes, the pulse travels from the neuron to the brain, which interprets the signal as a visual image. In a phototransistor, the charge is transcribed into a binary code which software can then convert into a digital image.

One of the recent breakthroughs in phototransistor technology is the flip-transfer fabrication, which inverts the phototransistor into a thin film covered with a metal layer. Below the silicon membrane, engineers placed electrodes that improve the light absorption.

According to Zhenqiang “Jack” Ma, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Wisconsin, light absorption in an ultrathin silicon layer is extremely efficient compared to previous designs. Light is allowed to penetrate the phototransistor completely, without interference from metal layers.

The interaction between the lower metal layer and the electrodes render external amplifiers unnecessary, which greatly reduces the amount of materials needed to produce a phototransistor.

The flexibility is useful for a number of purposes as well. It can capture light with extreme sensitivity under bending and stressful conditions, allowing images to be captured under the most extreme circumstances.

A press release detailing the findings of the study from the University of Wisconsin can be found here.

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