We're big fans of silicon
, but it turns out the stuff has been slacking off, and all it needs is a little nudge from sulfur hexafluoride and a high-powered laser to start working harder. When it gets that nudge it becomes a new material called black silicon that's between 100 and 500 times more sensitive to light -- including, amazingly, infrared. Some of the folks who accidentally invented black silicon started a company called SiOnyx, and with $11 million in venture financing, they're trying to commercialize it -- first for night vision and later for digital cameras, medical imaging, and maybe even solar cells
. The benefits are obvious, but like a lot of other future miracle technologies
we've heard about, it's still just science fiction to consumers until a solid deal is struck to bring it to market.