February 24, 2024

Advanced Image Sensor Technology Enables Simultaneous Energy Harvesting and Imaging

A team of researchers from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) has developed an innovative organic-based optoelectronic device that integrates the functionalities of organic photovoltaic cells (OPVs) and organic photodetectors (OPDs). The device not only enhances energy efficiency in low-light conditions but also visualizes images, making it suitable for a range of applications.

OPVs are known for their ability to generate electricity even in very low light conditions, while OPDs are capable of capturing images. However, the development of these devices has been conducted independently, resulting in limitations in terms of efficiency and practicality for miniaturized devices.

To address this, the KIST research team, in collaboration with Korea University and Ewha Womans University, advanced the organic semiconductor layer into a multicomponent structure, enhancing the device’s performance. The device achieves a photoelectric conversion efficiency exceeding 32% and a linear dynamic range surpassing 130 dB in indoor environments. This improvement allows for clearer images, especially in low-light conditions, compared to conventional silicon devices.

Moreover, the team successfully applied single-pixel image sensing, enabling the device to capture ambient light, convert it into electrical energy, and acquire images. This makes it a versatile platform that can function not only as a conventional camera but also as a decorative element on windows or walls. It offers sufficient resolution to discern shapes and movements of objects.

Dr. Min-Chul Park from KIST emphasized the technology’s versatility, stating that it can not only harvest energy but also detect movement and recognize motion patterns in environments without light. He believes that this technology holds promise in various sectors, including human-computer interaction (HCI) research and smart indoor environments.

The team’s findings were published in the journal Advanced Materials, highlighting the potential and significance of organic-based optoelectronic devices for energy harvesting and imaging applications. The integration of OPVs and OPDs in a single device opens doors for more efficient and practical solutions in the development of next-generation electronic devices and wireless IoT sensors. As the demand for low-power indoor electronics and energy-efficient sensors continues to rise, organic-based optoelectronic technology offers a promising solution with its superior flexibility and light weight compared to conventional silicon-based devices.

1.      Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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