Digital photography has leaped forward over the years for three reasons: improved batteries, larger and cheaper memory cards, and revolutions in sensor technology. And now researchers in Scotland are trying to improve the sensors even more, using nanotech to push up sensitivity and color discrimination.
When light impacts a CMOS sensor the resulting excitation of electrons creates groups of oscillating electrons interacting as waves–dubbed surface plasmons. Plasmon behaviour itself affects how the CMOS pixels react to the incoming light, which thus affects how well the overall sensor detects and forms an image.
For now, the whole system works pretty fantastically. But the team at the University of Glasgow have just won a grant to let them try to improve the plasmon interaction at the surface of a CMOS sensor. By carefully crafting nano-scale patterns or structures on the CMOS film they feel they’ll be able to tweak the plasmon waves. This should result in improved sensitivity of sensors. And if they achieve their goal of tuning the waves to correspond to particular light wavelengths it should also improve the color discrimination of the sensors.
It’s through numerous projects like this one–scheduled to last three years–that digital imaging will keep revolutionizing itself.