Thinner capacitor for compact Xenon flash units


All the smartphone manufacturers are in a race to have the best camera module on their product. Recently announced HTC One which uses something called Ultrapixel, in which each pixel can get 300% more light than competitors products, thus leading to the final photograph having a better photo quality.

The best camera that I have seen on a smartphone has got to be the Nokia’s 808 PureView. The 808 PureView device comes with a 41MP sensor, and it basically uses the oversampling technique which leads to the final output photograph having better quality than any of the competing devices. Of course it has its own downsides, and it’s the substantial bump on the rear of the device which is needed to accommodate the camera.

Many people think that the bump is because of the sensor being big, but apparently that’s not the case. The PureView 808 has a Xenon flash, and if you don’t know how Xenon flash functions, there’s a capacitor which charges and releases the charge in a single shot in a chamber filled with Xenon gas, giving a uniform flash experience. The problem with this technology is that the capacitor is too big to be accommodated within the phone’s thin body, and hence the protruding extension is required for the camera unit. The problem not just affects the Nokia 808, but all the smartphones that use Xenon flash for photography needs.

Most of the smartphone manufacturers have moved on to LED flash, but that’s of course not the best lighting solution. LED flashes are efficient and can fit well into phone’s super sleek body, but it often overexposes the photograph and can be used as a good quality flashlight.

Xenon flash is the ultimate solution, but only if somebody found a way to decrease the size of the capacitor used for it, and fortunately a group of researchers in Singapore have found a solution to enable such technology to fit a lot easier into today’s ultrathin smartphones, or any smaller device with a camera.

Professor Lee Pooi See at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore has devised a way to manufacture capacitor that is made using polymers which are layered together flat, and are capable of storing electric charge. This unit is apparently just 20% of the size of today’s 5mm thick capacitors. At only 1mm thick, you may criticize that there must be some trade off in terms of performance achieved, but according to Jack Tuen, CEO of Xenon Technologies, there isn’t any . The company started working with NTU last summer on the prototype and the only challenge remaining to develop a method to mass produce this new polymer capacitor technology.

The word is that Nokia will be launching a high end Lumia phone with the mammoth camera unit that was featured on PureView 808. The upcoming Lumia may not feature this technology and will definitely have a hump on the back, but these capacitors are bound to make way into consumer market very soon. What are your thoughts on this? Let us know.

via AA

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