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Nokia files a patent for new variety of photo sensor

Nokia 808 PureView is the first ever smartphone which features Nokia’s PureView technology. The technology is basically a pixel oversampling technique which essentially decreases an image taken at full resolution into a lower resolution image, achieving higher definition and light sensitivity in the process, and also enabling lossless zoom, which is a pretty nice feature to have on your handheld.

Nokia is also launching its new Windows Phone 8 device, Lumia 920, under the Pureview lineup. Though Lumia 920 will be coming with Pureview branding, it won’t be boasting the huge 41 megapixel sensor that Nokia 808 PureView features, instead it will be having a 8 megapixel camera, and Nokia seems to have used Pureview technology on a smaller scale on this phone. Even the Lumia 820 has similar specs in the camera department, but it’s not known whether it will be coming with PureView technology or not. The reason behind Nokia not going for a 41 megapixel sensor may be the fact that it will give a huge bump on the device’s back, something that is not desirable.

Nokia is definitely working on new photography technology, and to testify that fact, Nokia has filed a patent application for the sensing of photons by making use of graphene technology. Graphene is basically a 2D material that is made out of atom sized carbon layer. Using this technology, new photo sensors can be developed which will be significantly smaller in size than the sensors which current CMOS sensor technology is able to produce. Apart from that, graphene sensors will also perform better in low light environment, thanks to transparency of grapheme layers. If this technology gets to see light of day, we will be having a smaller, thinner, better low-light performing photo sensor, which could also mean future Nokia may boast 41 megapixel camera without that awkward hump.

Graphene technology isn’t something that was found yesterday. It has been around for quite a long time and finds its application in areas ranging from solar cells to sensors capable of detecting a single molecules of toxic gases. The challenge is, however, making use of graphene layers for photographic purposes.

The patent application shows the usage of more than one photo sensing layers of graphene which can absorb light across range of frequencies, including visible, infrared and ultraviolet. The technology increases low light performance as only 2.3% of light passing through the graphene layers are absorbed. The material cost is also significantly lower, which should directly convert into lower manufacturing cost. We’re looking at a technology that can give birth to a smaller sensor at a lesser cost. Of course, the patent has been just filed and is mere an idea, and perhaps it may or may not make into production. Nevertheless, we cannot expect such graphene sensors being mass produced in the near future. Giving it a mechanical shutter would be a dream come true.

Nonetheless, what do you think about Nokia’s plans? Do you think Nokia will make use of this technology in its future smartphones. Let us know your thoughts using the comment form below.

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