Cameras Five Times More Sensitive to Light? An Ultrasensitive Molybdenum

“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”.

A new material which has the potential to improve the sensitivity of photographic image sensors by a factor of five. Here comes the “MOLYBDENITE LIGHT SENSOR




All digital cameras work according to the same principle: they convert light into an electric charge. The camera has a light sensor, whose surface is a semi-conducting material that is divided into millions of cells, or pixels. The semi-conducting material on each cell reacts to the incoming light by generating a specific electrical charge, which is then transferred to the camera’s firmware for processing. The efficiency of this process depends on the quantity of light that is needed to trigger the charge transfer.

 Each pixel of the semi conducting silicon of a standard light sensor generates an electrical charge in response to exposure to light. The camera then collates all those charges into a single image .This  sensor’s single pixel produced a charge using just one fifth the amount of light energy required by a pixel on a silicon sensor.

A pixel in the molybdenite sensor needed just one fifth the amount of light energy that was required by a silicon sensor pixel to produce a charge.


Molybdenite’s extraordinary properties make this performance possible. Like the silicon used in currently available sensors, molybdenite requires an electric current, which comes from the battery. To generate a pixel, the charge generated by the light energy must be greater than the threshold current from the battery.


 A single-atom layer of molybdenite requires only a very small electric charge Because of this; it takes much less light energy to reach the threshold needed to generate a pixel.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.
  • Molydbenite is naturally abundant and quite inexpensive.


This level of sensitivity would open up the huge area of low-light or night photography, without resorting to “noise”-generating amplification techniques, slowing down the shutter speed or using a flash. For some specialized domains in which light conditions are often not optimal, such as astrophotography or biological imaging, the advantage is even more obvious. “It would make it possible to take photographs using only starlight”.

Courtesy : EPFL

Posted By

Bodhu Nishitha

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