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World’s fastest silicon phototransistor could speed up digital cameras

Researchers and engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) have created the world’s most responsive and fastest flexible silicon transistor. For the first time, engineers have created a flexible silicon phototransistor that can sense high-sensitivity photodetection and stable performance under bending conditions.

The highlight of the newly developed transistor is its size, which can be used to improve products like digital cameras, night vision instruments, surveillance systems, smoke detectors and satellites. The small size of the transistor helps in boosting acquisition speed and quality of videos and images. Another important feature is that the light gets absorbed in an ultra-thin silicon layer which is more efficient than metal or other materials that block light.

The new high-performance transistor has been developed by UW-Madison collaborators Zhenqiang ‘Jack’ Ma, professor of electrical and computer engineering researcher scientist Jung-Hun Seo. They said that they created the product using a new method called “flip-transfer,” where the finished piece is inverted into a plastic substrate, allowing light to be absorbed more efficiently and greatly.

The groundbreaking product surpasses all preceding phototransistors on the basis of response time and responsiveness. The phototransistor will be able to deliver high-definition images, even in low-light conditions. Similar to human eyes, phototransistors sense and collect light into an electrical charge. The charge consists of a thread of 1s and 0s when strung together, creating a digital image. The technology is set to be patented through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).

Recently, Apple was ordered by a U.S court to pay millions of dollars to WARF in a patent infringement case for a processing technology developed by University of Wisconsin researchers. Jack Ma concluded by saying that the demonstration shows the capabilities of high-sensitivity photodetection and stable performance under conditions which have never been achieved at the same time.

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