If you think solar panels are the only thing that use photons to produce power, you might need to read this. Scientists from Columbia University seem to have developed a camera that uses light to power itself.
The camera appears to have been developed in the university’s Department of Computer Science by researchers Shree Nayar and Daniel Sims in collaboration with Mikhail Fridberg, the head of ADSP Consulting in Sharon, Massachusetts.
As for the camera itself, it looks like it uses a simple pixel circuit where its photodiote is used to measure light as well as convert it into electrical energy. This has been made possible by a sensor architecture, which first captures and reads the image and then is used to harvest energy for the sensor’s power supply.
To test it out, the researchers used off-the-shelves components and made two models. One was made using a single pixel based on the design at hand and used it to capture scene images. The next one was made as a fully self-powered camera that outputs 30×40 pictures, using a supercap power supply rather and an external source.
The fully fledged camera was then used to take images in environments with light measuring in at around 300 lux. This resulted in the camera harvesting enough power to keep the supercap above the minimum needed for the camera to take an image per second… forever.
In order to test this out in different lighting environments, the scientists used an adaptive algorithm used to adjust the framerate of the camera based on the voltage of the supercap and the environmental brightness. In the end, the final results got the researchers hyped about the future of fully self-powered solid-state image sensors.
What does this mean for future camera models? Well, post probably it would mean infinite battery life! Or this could even lead to a way to power up your handheld gadgets that feature a camera? Who knows! What we do know is that it is awesome!
Images and videos courtesy of Columbia University