Since first obtained, in 2004, graphene has been heavily researched by the scientific community. Now, experts at the University of Maryland (UMD) announce that they've figured out a way to use the carbon compound for the creation of a sensitive infrared (IR) light detector called a hot electron bolometer.
The team, from the UMD Center for Nanophysics and Advanced Materials, says that the new type of bolometer would have been impossible to produce at its current level of sophistication without using the bi-dimensional, single-atom thick carbon compound.
Graphene has a host of desirable chemical and physical properties that exhibit great promise for use in the fields of electronics, nanotechnology, advanced materials and medicine. This was proven in the new study as well, where two sheets of the material were put together to create the basis for the detector.
The novel bolometer technology could be used for the detection of chemical and biochemical agents and weapons from a distance, a capability that nearly all security agencies in the world are very interested in, e! Science News
In addition, studying the inherent structure of the Universe will be made possible using improved telescopes, based on the new technology. The team behind the bolometer was headed by research associate Jun Yan and UMD professors Michael Fuhrer and Dennis Drew.
Their device is sensitive to an unusually broad range of photon energy, from terahertz (between far infrared and microwave ranges) to visible light. This is very important because terahertz radiations are very difficult to detect with existing technologies.
The group details the intricate inner workings of the device in the June 3 issue of the esteemed scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology. The reason that graphene is so good at absorbing very low energy photons (terahertz and infrared ranges) is because it has a band gap of zero.
The band gap is a range of energies in semiconductor materials that electrons are forbidden to occupy. Since most photon detectors are based on semiconductors, they are only sensitive to a narrow range of photon energies.