A new quantum film could replace today's digital imagers with a lower-cost alternative that suspends quantum dots in a black polymer, similar in appearance to traditional photographic film, but which performs like a silicon image sensor. Look for improved camera phones over the next few years, thanks to quantum film. R.C.J.
Photographic film is a polymer with embedded silver grains that, when developed, turn into the dark areas of a photographic “negative.” The disadvantage of photographic film, of course, is that it is write-only and must be processed before it can be scanned into a digital file. By substituting a silicon image sensor for the photographic film, the modern digital camera does its own scanning, thus eliminating the need for old-school film. Now InVisage proposes placing quantum film where the silicon image sensor is today. Like photographic film, quantum film is composed of a low-cost polymer with embedded nanoparticles; instead of silver grains, quantum film uses semiconductor nanoparticles. The semiconducting nanoparticles absorb light and convert it into an electrical signal, enabling quantum film to serve the same function as a silicon image sensor, but at a much lower price point.
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