While the small image sensors in smartphone cameras are capable of capturing good detail in bright light, they continue to struggle in low light conditions. New research undertaken by Dr. Sumeet Walia and Dr. Amgad Rezk of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) might change all that. 

The team looked into the use of surface acoustic waves or "nano earthquakes" to change the electronic properties of 2D materials and tested the method on a extremely thin photoluminescent material, which emitted more and more light as the nano-earthquake intensified. As soon as the acoustic waves were switched off the 2D material retracted back to its initial optical state. 

“Sound waves can be likened to ripples created on the surface of water, but where we can control the direction and intensity of these ripples,” Dr Walia said. Dr Rezk further explained: “We’ve found that ‘nano-earthquake’-like waves under the surface of the 2D materials drag electrons along their path, thereby tuning the amount of light emitted by the material. Remarkably, the acoustic wave based tunability did not result in any structural or compositional change in the material. 

It is probably going to take a while before these findings can be applied to consumer electronics but they are interesting nevertheless. According to the authors of the study, they could also have an impact on the development of more efficient solar panels and be used in the design of "smart windows". 

Source: RMIT | Via: Engadget