Quantum Dots Could Make Dark, Grainy Mobile Phone Pics Obsolete

I've all but accepted my iPhone will never take Matt Buchanan-esque photos in low light. Hell, even in good light the results are oftentimes dull and grainy. Luckily an enhancement, like all things from the fantastic future, is almost here.

In fact, part of the fix is already here, it's just not in camera phones yet. Called "quantum dots", these minuscule little helpers could one day replace the silicon that powers today's sub-par camera phone technology.

Manufacturer InVisage explains the dots are tiny semiconducting crystals - just a few nanometres across - that are able to absorb various colours thanks to a nifty doppelganger trick that sees them changing size. When the dot is large, it absorbs red light; when it is small, the hue is blue.

Better still for the budding camera phone photographer is this final tidbit:

Placing the quantum dots on top of the electronics means more pixels can be crammed into a given area and less incoming light is lost. Moreover, photodetectors based on quantum dots produce less noisy images, so the picture is sharper even if the number of pixels is not increased.

InVisage plans to take the quantum dots tech into the solar panel realm too, where it could be put to use as a more efficient alternative to, you guessed it, the silicon version.

As for timing, who knows? Quantum dots are very real (they have a Wikipedia page! There's a picture, above!), but their application in the camera phone world is, as you can see with InVisage's work, still being tested.

Image: TUDelft [Economist]