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Ranging and light field imaging with transparent photodetectors


The core of any optical imaging system is a photodetector. Whether it is film or a semiconductor chip in a camera, or indeed the retina in an eye, conventional photodetectors are designed to absorb most of the incident light and record a projected two-dimensional (2D) distribution of light from a scene. The intensity distribution of light from 3D objects, however, can be described by a 4D light field, so optical imaging systems that can acquire higher dimensions of optical information are highly desirable1,2,3. Here, we report a proof-of-concept light field imaging scheme using transparent graphene photodetector stacks. On a transparent substrate we fabricate a photodetector using graphene as the light-sensing layer, the conducting channel layer, the gate layer and interconnects, enabling sensitive light detection and high transparency at the same time. This technology opens up the possibility of developing sensor arrays that can be stacked along the light path, enabling entirely new configurations of optical imaging devices. We experimentally demonstrate depth ranging using a double stack of transparent detectors and develop a method for computational reconstruction of a 4D light field from a single exposure that can be applied following the successful fabrication of dense 2D transparent sensor arrays.

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Fig. 1: Light field imaging system enabled by focal stacks of highly transparent photodetectors.
Fig. 2: Photoresponse characterization of the all-graphene heterojunction photodetectors.
Fig. 3: Experimental demonstration of depth ranging using a double stack of transparent graphene detectors.
Fig. 4: Computational reconstruction of the 4D light field using focal stack data.

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Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.

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We acknowledge financial support from the W. M. Keck Foundation. This work was also supported by NSF awards ECCS-1254468 and ECCS-1509354. The devices were fabricated in the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility at the University of Michigan, a member of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network funded by the National Science Foundation.

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Authors and Affiliations



M.-B.L. and C.-H.L. conducted the optical experiments with help from M.Z. Simulation work was performed by M.-B.L., with help from S.R., H.N. and I.Y.C. I.Y.C. analysed the proposed light field imaging system and provided its sampling property. Device fabrication and measurements were performed by C.-H.L., with help from M.Z. The research was conceived and directed by T.B.N., Z.Z. and J.A.F. All authors contributed to preparation of the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Jeffrey A. Fessler, Zhaohui Zhong or Theodore B. Norris.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Discussion and Figs. 1–3.

Source data

Source Data Fig. 2

Data for detector characterization.

Source Data Fig. 3

Data for optical ranging.

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Lien, MB., Liu, CH., Chun, I.Y. et al. Ranging and light field imaging with transparent photodetectors. Nat. Photonics 14, 143–148 (2020).

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