Night vision technology rebooted

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A new type of graphene-based light detector could transform night vision technology, leading to inexpensive infrared cameras or night vision goggles, according to the detector’s creators.

A team of researchers in Australia and the USA has developed the light detector based on graphene – a single sheet of interconnected carbon atoms.

The detector is capable of detecting light over an unusually broad range of wavelengths, a press release from Monash University reports. The range includes terahertz waves – between infrared and microwave radiation – where sensitive light detection is most difficult.

The research could lead to a generation of light detectors that could see below the surface of walls and other objects, according to Michael Fuhrer, corresponding author of a publication in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

“We have demonstrated light detection from terahertz to near-infrared frequencies, a range about 100 times larger than the visible spectrum,” says Fuhrer in the press release.

“Detection of infrared and terahertz light has numerous uses, from chemical analysis to night vision goggles, and body scanners used in airport security.”

More than a million times faster

Current technological applications for detection in the terahertz range are limited, as they need to be kept extremely cold to maintain sensitivity. Existing detectors that work at room temperature are bulky, slow, and expensive.

The new detector, which works at room temperature, is already as sensitive as any existing room-temperature detector technology in the terahertz range. It’s also more than a million times faster, according to Fuhrer.

“The combination of sensitivity and speed for terahertz detection is simply unprecedented,” he says.

Adapted from Monash University News

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