Here’s an interesting new patent from Sony, one that shows a sensor design that makes use of a nano-carbon layer on the sensor that acts much like an on-sensor shutter. According to the patent description over at Egami, the light wavelength transmission range of the nano-carbon layer can be changed by applying a current, so in theory what it should do is to only transmit light when a certain current is applied, and in other cases block the light, much like a mechanical shutter would do.
There are a couple uncertainties about this patent, though. First of all, the patent description mentions that the nano layer only covers one pixel out of each RGGB / RRGB /RGBW array (it seems Sony is considering various color filter layouts,) so we’re not entirely sure how light to the remaining pixels would be blocked, unless the sensor also incorporates an electronic shutter much like the Pansonic Lumix GM1 does.
Then, Image Sensors World, who reported on this patent a couple days ago, mentions that apparently the transmission range that can be changed only applies to the infrared band, which would render the patent useless for regular photographic sensors. However, we don’t have any physicists or IC designer in the Phoblographer team, so we can’t say with certainty what this means for practical implementation.
In any case, the idea itself is fascinating, and if such a nano-carbon layer could be made that can be toggled to block all visible light upon applying a current, this might lead to the ultimate death of the mechanical shutter some time in the future.
Via Photo Rumors