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Contact Lens with Infrared Vision

    Date:2015-04-02 14:21:41
Have you ever thought of putting on a contact lens equipped with infrared vision device, just like the spy from the thriller movie. But now, thanks to research at the University of Michigan, such a contact lens is a real possibility.

Graphene is capable of detecting the entire infrared spectrum, with visible and ultraviolet light thrown in. But where graphene giveth, it also take away. Because graphene is only one-atom thick, it can absorb only 2.3 percent of the light that hits it. This is not enough to generate an electrical signal, and without a signal it can’t operate as a infrared sensor.

 

 

To achieve this amplification, the researchers started by sandwiching an insulator between two sheets of graphene. The bottom sheet has an electrical current running through it. When light hits the top sheet, electrons are freed and positively charged electron holes are generated. The electrons are able to perform a quantum tunneling effect through the insulator layer, which would be impenetrable in classical physics.

This device has very nearly the same sensitivity as cooled mid-infrared detectors, but achieves it at room temperature. The researchers have already been able to produce infrared sensors the size of a pinky nail, or a standard contact lens.