Printed light sensors can tell colors

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Many experts regard Visible Light Communication (VLC) as a promising field of technology. VLC uses interior lighting in buildings for optical communication. In terms of safety, speed and accessibility, this technology offers a number of advantages over current transmission methods such as WLAN or Bluetooth. A group of KIT researchers is working in this field. “Our research contributes to this technology by combining the advantages of organic semiconductors and their production with printing techniques,” says Dr. Gerardo Hernandez-Sosa of the KIT Lighting Technology Institute.

Hernandez-Sosa’s team has now succeeded in finding a material composition that is suitable for use as a wavelength-sensitive light detector and can also be printed on flexible substrates. Areas from very small to very large can be printed. The layout can be easily designed using a computer. “These photo sensors can be produced in large quantities in any design on flexible, lightweight materials. This makes them particularly suitable for mobile devices,” says researcher Noah Strobel.

The printing of semiconductor devices is a relatively recent development, but their potential for future applications is very high. Industry is already investing heavily in the production of printed OLED displays for televisions and smartphones. Printed flexible solar cells or pressure sensors are also already on the market. The production of printed light detectors has also already reached industrial level. Therefore, according to the Karlsruhe researchers, the chances are high that these elements will be used in many applications in the future, especially in view of the growing demand for sensors in the Internet of Things, in smart cities and in Industry 4.0.

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