Recently, a research team led by Viktor Gruev and Shuming Nie from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has published a study.
Butterflies like Papilio xuthus have specialized visual systems allowing perception of a wider range of colors and ultraviolet (UV) light compared to humans. Their eye units called ommatidia contain photoreceptors with distinct spectral sensitivities in a tiered structure. About one-third of the ommatidia have UV fluorescent pigments that absorb UV light and emit fluorescence detected by underlying photoreceptors, enabling the butterfly to discriminate small UV spectral variations. However, silicon image sensors are limited in UV sensitivity due to rapid attenuation of UV light in silicon. Here we present a bioinspired imaging sensor combining a thin layer of perovskite nanocrystals with vertically stacked silicon photodiodes to emulate the UV detection mechanisms of Papilio xuthus. The nanocrystals absorb UV light, emitting fluorescence detected by the photodiodes, while the top photodiode directly detects remaining UV light. This enables wavelength-resolved UV imaging for applications such as medical diagnostics.
This paper presents a novel bioinspired CMOS imager for UV spectral imaging. The sensor uniquely combines perovskite nanocrystals with vertically stacked silicon photodiodes to enable real-time, high resolution, wavelength discrimination of UV signatures. This overcomes limitations in UV sensitivity of silicon detectors. Optimization of the nanocrystal layer allowed 99% discrimination between autofluorescence spectra of cancer and normal cells. This capability for spectral bio-imaging could have diverse applications in medical diagnostics, industrial sensing and automation. Overall, this work demonstrates a pathway to enhance UV detection in CMOS imagers through bioinspired photonic design, unlocking new possibilities for spectral imaging.
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Keywords: CMOS, photodiode