Researchers from Technische Universität München (TUM) have developed a new generation of image sensors that are more sensitive to light than the conventional silicon versions.

They consist of electrically conductive plastics, which are sprayed on to the sensor surface in an ultra-thin layer. The chemical composition of the polymer spray coating can be altered so that even the invisible range of the light spectrum can be captured. The technology opens up development possibilities for low-cost infrared sensors aimed at compact cameras and smartphones.

The researchers tested spin- and spray-coating methods to apply the plastic in its liquid-solution form as precisely and cost-effectively as possible.

Because the sensors are plastic, different chemical compounds can be used to capture different parts of the light spectrum. For example, the PCBM and P3HT polymers are ideal for the detection of visible light. Other organic compounds, like squaraine dyes, are sensitive to light in the near-infrared region.

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