A contact lens with infrared vision capabilities might seem like something that comes from a Sci-Fi writers’ mind or maybe the mind of an engineer? In fact a group of engineers at the University of Michigan have utilised graphene to create an ‘infrared sensitive graphene sandwich.’
As a whole, science is just scratching the surface regarding the multiple uses of graphene. It can do almost everything, from removing salt molecules from water to becoming super-thin body armour. One of the really interesting properties of graphene is that it also does something really cool with light: it readily absorbs light energy and then fires off multiple electrons. Unfortunately, graphene is also extremely thin, in fact it is as thin as a strand of human hair, so it is unable to actually absorb a lot of light.
The researchers at Michigan have calculated a way to alter that, by using two layers of graphene with a dielectric amid them. It works like this: When light hits the top layer of graphene, the electrons that are generated travel to the bottom layer through the dielectric material. This process increases the number of electrons, by a factor of approximately 100. This makes a phototransistor that has sensitivity about the same as a standard digital camera.
‘What about the super spy contact lens?’ I hear you say. Well, graphene is sensitive to multiple wavelengths of light, which are outside of the visible spectrum, including infrared. The graphene sandwich created by the Michigan team is currently sensitive to visible light and infrared and because of its thin properties, the team has suggested that integrating it with a contact lens would be a high-quality use of this new technology. Not only could this be, and probably will be, used by the military, but it also has applications in medical science as well.
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[Image via cyberdog]