We could really see graphene based camera sensors in #Nokia devices soon?!

Graphene as a material (of future) become known in the 2004 when two scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov patented it. Ideas for using this material or compound were growing exponentially since then.

Since it can be single layer of atom thin and has great strength and electrical conductivity Nokia had an idea of using it in camera sensors. Back in 2012 Nokia was granted with a patent of a graphene based camera sensor, and later in 2013 was already testing camera with that sensor. The interesting thing is that Nokia was involved as a partner in Graphene Flagship Consortium which was funded by the European Union with purpose to commercialize the utility of this super material. As mentioned previously plans of making camera sensors with graphene layers were the real deal for Nokia, and recent rumours were saying that we could even see it in some future top model smartphone with Nokia logo on it.

Well, that could be true since scientists from the University of Cambridge in conjunction with business partners managed to develop graphene based infra-red (IR) detector with high sensitivity to heat. This sensitivity can be thanked to graphene monolayer that can change its electrical resistance with little increase of heat in pyroelectric substrate that lies beneath, and thus created an electric field can be amplified and registered by the device as an output, without additional external transistor amplifiers. Because of that, the signal from the sensor is clean, with little or no noise, and gives more precise readings.

Collaboration on graphene studies was established between the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Barcelona and the University of Ioannina in Greece, as well as Nokia UK and Emberion, who are local industrial partners of the Cambridge Graphene Centre. The Emberion is also interesting here since it spun off Nokia’s R&D in Finland and now it is focused on the design and production of the graphene based optoelectronics as well as other nanomaterials and CMOS integrated circuits. They also licence their technology so maybe HMD can get some discount in graphene based camera sensors since Nokia was involved deeply into their development.

This is just a short version of the great article describing this which you can read HERE.

  • Michael

    What does that mean “The Emberion is also interesting here since it spun off Nokia’s R&D
    in Finland and now it is focused on the design and production of the
    graphene based optoelectronics as well as other nanomaterials and CMOS
    integrated circuits.”

    Specifically, what does “spun off” mean? Is there still some sort of contract/company connection? Does Nokia benefit somehow in this “spin off”?

    Also, I found this related to the technologies, “Under an agreement between Emberion Oy and Nokia, photodetector technologies developed by the team have been acquired by the new company”. What does that mean, “acquired”? Are they licensing the technologies? Did they purchase the rights to the patent?


    • As I understand, Nokia’s R&D on graphene was made independet with more partners investing in it, alongside Nokia. Nokia surely secured some rights, but the contract between parties is business secret.
      Emberion bought or was given (under certain terms) the technology from Nokia to further develop graphene-based tech.

      • Muerte

        Emberion bought graphene based photodetector technology from Nokia especially regarding x-ray, infrared and thermographic camera technologies.

        Traditional photography was not directly named as such in the news regarding the establishment of this new tech company Emberion.

        But it is true that it was established by ex-Nokians and they use the technology developed by the same team while working for Nokia.

        Emberion got funding from Finnish VersoVentures. It is not a big surprise that VersoVentures has many team members from Nokia.

      • Michael

        Thanks stipe1906 and Meurte. I was a bit confused by the term “spun off”. I’m used to “spun off” meaning what is described here: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/spinoff.asp. That would make some sense, I just didn’t see any official Nokia announcement.

        Looking further here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_spin-off. That link also describes a traditional spin-off but also describes a second type of spin-off. “A second definition of a spin-out is a firm formed when an employee or
        group of employees leaves an existing entity to form an independent
        start-up firm. The prior employer can be a firm, a university, or
        another organization.[5] Spin-outs typically operate at arm’s length
        from the previous organizations and have independent sources of
        financing, products, services, customers, and other assets. In some
        cases, the spin-out may license technology from the parent or supply the
        parent with products or services; conversely, they may become
        competitors. Such spin-outs are important sources of technological diffusion in high-tech industries.” That’s obviously what we have here. Learn something new every day.

        Pretty interesting. I suppose those technologies don’t really fit into Nokia’s core business, and I’m sure there will be technology sharing agreements for any graphene-based breakthroughs.

        • He he, spun is simple past from spin if I’m correct :). Just used past tense there. Nokia is still involved in studying graphene, but as it did with HAAC microphones, probably created separate business that will invest in the production of the sensors and Nokia will have some kind of exclusivity or pay smaller amount for royalties

      • Michael

        I was looking at the Nokia’s just released Form 20-F 2016 report. Found this part talking about Nokia Technologies

        “25% year-on-year net sales decrease and 49% operating profit decrease in Q4 2016, primarily due to the absence of the Samsung arbitration award, which benefited Q4 2015. The declines were partially offset by the expanded intellectual property rights (“IPR”) license agreement with Samsung announced in Q3 2016 *and divested IPR*. In addition, the acquisition of Withings helped to offset the decline in net sale”

        Wonder if that “divested IPR” is the photodector technologies sold to Emberion? If so, that number is in the 309 million EU Nokia Technologies earnings for q4.

        Are you guys aware of any other IPR that was divested?

        • Suri said they will divest some patents that they cannot monetize, maybe by selling or by not extending the protection. Not aware of specific cases.