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Scientists At Columbia University Invent First Self-Powered Camera

Question asked by Coral Jain in #Coffee Room on Apr 16, 2015
Coral Jain
Coral Jain · Apr 16, 2015
Rank D1 - MASTER
If your about-to-go-dead camera's batteries need to be charged just before a long trip, who won't be annoyed? If the camera did not need batteries, wouldn't that really be something? Well, a research team led by an Indian Origin Computer Science Professor, Shree Nayar from Columbia University is working on just that. They have invented the world’s first self-powered camera that works on photoconductive (i.e. digital camera) and photovoltaic (i.e. solar cell) modes to capture images. This means that the self-powered camera uses the technology used by a digital camera as well by the sensors which convert light into electricity.

Designed by assembling off-the-shelf materials, the technology is based on two concepts: Whenever a photodiode is exposed to sunlight, electric current generated is used to measure the intensity of light falling on it; Secondly, solar cell produces electric power. Utilising both these phenomena, the scientists at Columbia University's School of Engineering and Applied Science have invented an image sensor having diodes capable of performing both these functions. According to Prof. Nayar, this prototype is a first demo of a fully self-powered camera.


This research team at the university designed a pixel circuit consisting of photodiodes which, as mentioned above, were used to measure the intensity of incident light. They initially developed a single pixel based design which scanned the images of the scenes. The implications derived from this design were used to develop a camera that can produce images of resolution 30 pixels by 40 pixels and that can have brightness of around 300 lux. The camera takes help of a supercapacitor (a high-capacity electrochemical capacitor with capacitance values up to 10,000 farads and stores 10 to 100 times more energy per unit volume or mass than electrolytic capacitors) to extract power. The voltage across the supercapacitor remains above a threshold value that produces an image per second. The images that have varying brightness are controlled by an algorithm which lets the camera capture images by adjusting its frame rate on the basis of voltage of the supercapacitor and brightness of the scene being shot.

Ultimately, the light gathering and harvesting properties of the camera design are analyzed to confirm the functioning of fully self-powered solid-state image sensor that produces a useful resolution and frame rate. Although the resolution is not good enough to bring it to market, this one-of-a-kind camera has introduced new path-breaking technology to the world.

What are your views on world's first self-powered camera? Tell us in the comments section below.

Via: Columbia University Posted in: #Coffee Room
Ankita Katdare
Ankita Katdare · Apr 17, 2015
Rank A1 - PRO
So does that mean this camera can record forever? Wish it had a better resolution!

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