Van der Waals forces make sensor with improved color discrimination

Van der Waals forces make sensor with improved color discrimination

Technology News |
By Peter Clarke

Researchers from Georgia State University have designed a vertically-stacked image sensor that allows greater depth of color recognition and micro scalability.

As conventional image sensors go to smaller pixel sizes their ability to differentiate color accurately becomes impaired. Assistant professor Sidong Lei led the research team and claims the work lays the foundation for a biomimetic image sensor capable of faithful color rendition and miniaturization. The work was published in ACS Nano.

“This work is the first step toward our final destination ­– to develop a micro-scale camera for microrobots,” says assistant professor of Physics Sidong Lei, who led the research. “The ultimate purpose of our research is to develop a micro-scale camera for microrobots that can enter narrow spaces that are intangible by current means, and open up new horizons in medical diagnosis, environmental study, manufacturing, archaeology, and more.”


The sensor is based on a stack of materials in which individual atomic layers are bonded by weak van der Waals forces. Compared with conventional semiconductors, such as silicon, it is possible to control the van der Waals material band structure, thickness, and other critical parameters to sense the red, green, and blue colors.

“The ultra-thinness, mechanical flexibility, and chemical stability of these new semiconductor materials allow us to stack them in arbitrary orders. So, we are actually introducing a three-dimensional integration strategy in contrast to the current planar microelectronics layout. The higher integration density is the main reason why our device architecture can accelerate the downscaling of cameras,” said Ningxin Li, the lead author on the paper.

The technology is patent pending with Georgia State University’s Office of Technology Trasfer and Commercialization (OTTC).

The technology could be of use for the creation of biomimetic electronic eyes and other neuromorphic prosthetic devices, the authors state.

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