An ultrasensitive molybdenum-based image sensor

June 28, 2013

Prototype image sensor (credit: Alain Herzog/EPFL)

An EPFL team has built a prototype image sensor based on the semiconducting properties of molybdenite (molybdenum disulfide, MoS2). It could one day result in cameras that are five times more light-sensitive than current technology.

This level of sensitivity would open up the huge area of low-light or night photography, without resorting to “noise”-generating amplification techniques or high-ISO settings, slowing down the shutter speed, using flash, or requiring a more expensive “faster” lens.

A single-atom layer of molybdenite requires only a very small electric charge to function. Because of this, it takes much less light energy to reach the threshold needed to generate a pixel, according to EPFL research team leader Andras Kis.

MoS2 is a naturally abundant, inexpensive material. In addition, Kis explains, the prototype doesn’t require any other semiconductors, which should greatly simplify manufacturing processes. Kis, who is a pioneer in research on the semiconductivity of molybdenite, recently demonstrated its potential in an integrated circuit and, in early 2013, a flash memory prototoype.

Molybdenum disulfide is a promising emerging semiconductor material for future computers and electronic devices. KurzweilAI has recently covered this material extensively in our news. — Editor