Novel Self-Powered Camera

This lens of this new camera acts like a solar panel.Image: Columbia University

This lens of this new camera acts like a solar panel. Click image to enlarge.
Image: Columbia University

Who needs batteries to power a camera? Engineers from Columbia University are working on a novel design in which the pixels of the camera not only capture an image, they also collect light as an energy source.

The engineers are researching a commonality between a typical camera and solar panels: photodiodes. Each device has always used photodiodes, but in different ways.

Engineers plan for the new camera to use photodiodes in both functions.

This from Popular Science:

The researchers created a simple-looking camera that is just 30 x 40 pixels and successfully captured a number of images. They found that the camera worked perfectly well at light levels as low as 300 lux, a level that is dimmer than the light at sunset or sunrise. Though the researchers anticipate that their prototype could be the basis for a full-size, functional solar-powered camera, they also note that the camera could be used to charge its own rechargeable battery or even other devices when it’s not being used to capture images. And it’s less bulky than a camera laden with solar panels.

Read the full article here.

“We are in the middle of a digital imaging revolution,” said Shree Nayar, a computer scientist at Columbia University, in a press release. “A camera that can function as an untethered device forever – without any external power supply – would be incredibly useful.”

Want to learn more about photodiodes, energy storage, and the future of power? Listen to our podcast with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s John A. Turner below!

And don’t miss his plenary lecture at the 227th ECS Meeting in Chicago this May entitled, “Hydrogen from Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting – What’s it gonna’ take?“.

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