Posted in: Mobile hardware, Mobile phones

Next-gen Xenon capacitors are the breakthrough cameraphones needed

Xenon tubes have been powering the camera flashes for ages now, but with phones getting thinner every year, manufacturers have no choice but replace them with LED lights. What’s more, the performance of the few xenon flashes we’ve seen implemented in smartphones recently is underwhelming because the smaller the flash capacitor, the weaker the light output is.

A Singapore invention however has the potential to allow xenon flashes to reclaim some of the lost turf from LEDs. Researchers from the Nanyang Technological University have developed a revolutionary new type of capacitor, which is significantly smaller than the ones currently in use, while being equally powerful and even faster in recharging.

The new generation capacitor has the potential to revolutionize cameraphones, which have been slowly but steadily turning slimmer an slimmer. And xenon flashes would surely make a huge difference when it comes to taking photographs in low light, as they are much brighter than even the best LEDs currently integrated in mobile phones.


The newly developed capacitor (the flat black strip) next to its shiny, but bulky predecessor

The person behind this technological breakthrough is Assoc Prof Lee Pooi See at the Nanyang Technological University (the woman seen on the image above). She and her team of researchers have been working on the project for the past two and a half years. They’ve created a capacitor made from multiple layers of polymers. It’s at least four times smaller than current electrolytic capacitors and is several times faster than the current ceramic-based capacitors.

The researchers are now partnering with Xenon Technologies, the world’s largest xenon flash manufacturer, in order to continue their work and transition the capacitor from the drawing board to the real world.

They expect to have a working commercial prototype by September this year, so I bet we’ll be seeing a new wave of xenon-flash-equipped smartphones in 2014. There goes one of the last advantages digicams had over cameraphones.

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