A Singapore invention looks set to equip mobile phones with a built-in, small yet powerful Xenon flash, allowing consumers to take great photos even in low-light conditions.
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have made a revolutionary capacitor that overcomes the limitations of current capacitors, which are needed to store enough energy to fire a powerful flash like those found on digital cameras but are too big to fit in slim mobile devices.
This invention by Associate Professor Lee Pooi See from NTU's School of Materials Science and Engineering, will be made a consumer reality in partnership with Xenon Technologies (XT), the world's largest Xenon flash manufacturer.
Made from polymers layered together, the new capacitor is at least four times smaller than current electrolytic capacitors and is several times faster than current ceramic-based capacitors. The multi-layered polymer capacitor is also able to deliver the same electricity charge needed to power high-intensity xenon flash light matching those found in digital cameras.
Through the university's Nanyang Innovation and Enterprise Office, NTU and XT entered into a Collaboration Agreement to research and develop a Multilayer Polymer Capacitor for xenon flash imaging applications.
Mr Jack Tuen, CEO of Xenon Technologies said: "This project will yield a breakthrough solution for the digital imaging industry, which will be the world's smallest Xenon flash. Our customers and consumers at large constantly demand for a proper xenon flash which can fit into increasingly smaller and beautiful form factor mobile devices. This is the answer which fulfils that need."
Prof Lee, whose researchers had worked on the invention for the past two and a half years, hopes that this collaboration with XT will accelerate the transfer of her innovation from research lab to industry.
"With XT's expertise in developing successful commercial products, we are confident that this collaboration will result in a disruptive innovation, not just in the area of flash technology, but also in the world of consumer electronics, as all computers and devices requires the use of capacitors in one way or another," she said.
The new breed of capacitors
Polymer capacitors such as the one developed by Prof Lee, generally possess a higher energy density than ceramic-based multilayer capacitors.
NTU's new material, a grafted co-polymer that stores charges similar to a multilayer ceramic capacitor, can be operated at high voltages. Capacitors made using this grafted co-polymer are flexible and much smaller than the conventional capacitors. In addition, the charge and discharge times of the capacitor are faster than other types of energy storage devices making it suitable for flash applications.
Currently, the polymer capacitor project is funded by Singapore's National Research Foundation (NRF) Proof-of-Concept grant. The NTU-Xenon team is expected to develop a working commercial prototype by September 2013.
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About Nanyang Technological University
A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, and Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.
NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes - the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering - and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).
A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.
Besides the main Yunnan Garden campus, NTU also has a satellite campus in Singapore's science and tech hub, one-north, and a third campus in Novena, Singapore's medical district.
For more information, visit www.ntu.edu.sg
About Xenon Technologies
Xenon Technologies is the world's largest xenon lamp manufacturer, rooted in the pioneering innovation of the xenon strobe six decades ago in Germany. Xenon strobe flashes can now be found in almost all digital cameras ranging from compact cameras to digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs).
The company headquartered in Singapore has been pioneering the smallest and most innovative flash modules products over the past few years for the world's top Digital Camera and Mobile Phone manufacturers.
For more information, visit www.xenon-technologies.com