Are you fed up with your camera – or any camera – not being able to take decent low-light photos? Just be patient. Swiss researchers have developed a molybdenite light sensor, that they say is five times more light-sensitive than current technology.

On an ordinary light sensor, the semi-conducting silicon surface of each pixel generates an electrical charge in response to exposure to light. The camera’s firmware processes those individual charges to form one cohesive image.

Molybdenite requires much less light energy than silicon, in order to produce a charge. Knowing this, an Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) team led by Prof. Andras Kis developed a proof-of-concept prototype light sensor that utilizes a one-atom-thick layer of molybdenite instead of silicon. They discovered that the sensor’s single pixel produced a charge using just one fifth the amount of light energy required by a pixel on a silicon sensor.

One of Prof. Kis' assistants working with the prototype sensor

Like silicon, the mineral molybdenite is naturally abundant and relatively inexpensive.

“Our main goal is to prove that MoS2 [molybdenum disulfide] is an ideal candidate for this kind of application,” says Kis. “It would make it possible to take photographs using only starlight.”

Source: EPFL