Both beginners and expert photographers in several fields, including sports photography, experience lining up for the perfect shot only to discover that the photo comes out blurry.

Not for long, scientists hope.

A team of engineers from the University of Wisconsin recently developed a new silicon phototransistor which they claim could make the quality of photos and videos much better than before even in settings with limited light. The integration of the new silicon phototransistor could also reduce the bulkiness of digital cameras.

The silicon phototransistor has a polymer layer which could easily absorb light, giving it a high-performance sensitivity and response time. It also collects light and converts it into an electric impulse which is turned into bits of 0's and 1's. The software will then convert it into a digital image.

University Professor Zhenqiang Ma explained that unlike other photodetecting structures, the new silicon phototransistor is much more efficient because light cannot be blocked by metal layers.

To capture the perfect action shot, photographers need very high levels of shutter speed, but increasing the shutter speed decreases the amount of light that the camera can collect, causing the shot to become blurry.

This is especially tricky when photographers have to work in environments where there is limited light. One practical example is covering an indoor event where there is not enough light to support faster shutter speeds. Experts suggest three different solutions, depending on what the photographer is willing to sacrifice. This includes changing the size of the camera's aperture, using a flash to illuminate the subject or increasing the camera's ISO speed. However, these options each have their own flaws.

Meanwhile, scientists say that the new silicon phototransistor can be used in low-light photography, even without the extra setup stated above. There are electrodes attached underneath the silicon nanomembrane (Si NM) layer of the phototransistor, enabling it to sense weak light. These electrodes act as reflectors and can boost light absorption without the use of any amplifier.

The phototransistor could also be used in more compact devices, possibly reducing the bulkiness of cameras that photographers often have to carry around. Researchers hope that the technology can soon be integrated into practical applications.

The study's findings were published in the journal Advanced Optical Materials.

Photo : Bruno Girin | Flickr

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