Daniel Porter
Jun 5, 2012

Graphene's latest trick: accurate photodetection

One of graphene's unique properties is that it has zero bandgap, which effectively means that it will absorb light of any wavelength and frequency. University of Maryland researchers were able to exploit this property to create a new, highly sensitive bolometer -- a device that measures absorbed radiation by temperature-induced resistance changes. Carbon-based graphene is also advantageous because none of the photon's energy is lost to the crystal lattice, as in many semiconductor-based detectors. The team anticipates that the new detector could allow astronomers to carefully observe never-before-seen astronomical radiation -- at sub-millimeter wavelengths -- that could help us learn about the red-shift of many distant stars. The detectors could also find a wide variety of other uses, wherever photon detection accuracy can be improved here on earth.