Technology is downright crazy. To think that we have affordable digital cinema cameras in the present day that blow away the digital cameras that were being used in Hollywood eight years ago is bordering on absurd. Not only that, but technology is progressing at such a rate that everything is nearly outdated the moment it hits the market. And that trend doesn't look like it will change any time soon. A team of scientists in Singapore have recently developed a graphene-based sensor that is 1000x more sensitive to light than current CMOS and CCD designs. What does this mean for the photographic and filmmaking industries? Do we really need them?
According to Gizmag, scientists at Nanyang Technical University in Singapore have been working on a new graphene-based sensor which, they say, will be upwards of 1000 times more sensitive to light than existing CMOS and CCD sensors.
The new sensor is able to detect broad spectrum light, from the visible to mid-infrared, with great sensitivity. According to NTU, this technology will allow photographers to take much clearer images in harsh lighting conditions and, when mass produced, estimates are that graphene sensors will be up to five times cheaper than camera sensors today.
While advances such as these can be awesome to think about, often they are never fully implemented due to the fact that large-scale manufacturing processes don't exist yet for that technology, or it's just too expensive to produce. However, that doesn't seem like it will be a problem for these graphene-based sensors since they rely on existing manufacturing techniques.
“While designing this sensor, we have kept current manufacturing practices in mind," explains Asst. Prof Wang. "This means the industry can in principle continue producing camera sensors using the CMOS process, which is the prevailing technology used by the majority of factories in the electronics industry. Therefore manufacturers can easily replace the current base material of photo sensors with our new nanostructured graphene material.”
Seems like a pretty big deal, right? Well, maybe it is, and maybe it isn't. Sensor technology, at least in terms of digital cinema, is already potentially on the verge of a breakthrough with the imminent release of DRAGON. The native sensitivity of that sensor is 2000, which is already two stops more sensitive than a 500 ASA film stock. On top of that you have Sony's F5 and F55, which are spectacular low-light cameras. Even cheaper options like Canon's C100 and their DSLR's kick some major tail in terms of low-light performance.
At this point, low-light shooting is almost a non-issue considering the sensitivity of modern sensors. So would a graphene sensor that is 1000 times as sensitive as current sensors be of any benefit to serious photographers or cinematographers? My guess is that there would be all kinds of creative uses for technology like this, much like the work that people have done with the Kinect and DSLRs. Perhaps a new creative medium can be born of this technology, but only time will tell.
What do you guys think? Are graphene-sensors the technology of the future? Will they open up some new creative medium? Are they even necessary now that we have cameras that are already fantastic in low light? Let us know in the comments.