We’re just learning about the many uses of graphene, but it can do everything from removing salt molecules from water to becoming super-thin
body armor. It also does something really cool when with light: it
readily absorbs light energy and fires off multiple electrons.
Unfortunately, graphene is also really thin (as thin as a strand of
hair), so it can’t actually absorb a lot of light on its own. The
Michigan team, though, figured out
a way to change that by using two layers of graphene with a dielectric
in between them. When light hits the top layer of graphene, the
electrons generated travel to the bottom layer through the dielectric
material. This process increases the number of electrons, creating about
100 times more of them, making a phototransister that has a sensitivity
about equal to a standard digital camera.
But how does all this
create infrared vision in a contact lens? Graphene is sensitive to
multiple wavelengths of light outside of the visible spectrum, including
infrared and ultraviolet. The graphene sandwich created by the Michigan
team is currently sensitive to visible light and infrared. Because of
its thinness, the team suggests that integrating it with a contact lens
would be a good use of this new technology. Not only could this be
useful for military applications, but it also has applications in
medicine as well.
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