Graphene impacts space telescopes

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Graphene impacts space telescopes with the discovery of its use in THz heterodyne detection.

Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology have demonstrated a graphene-based detector with the potential to revolutionize the sensors used in next-generation space telescopes. Beyond superconductors, there are few materials that can meet the requirements for making ultra-sensitive and fast terahertz (THz) detectors for astronomy. Chalmers researchers have shown that engineered graphene adds a new material paradigm for THz heterodyne detection.

“Graphene might be the only known material that remains an excellent conductor of electricity/heat even when having, effectively, no electrons. We have reached a near zero-electron scenario in graphene, also called Dirac point, by assembling electron-accepting molecules on its surface. Our results show that graphene is an exceptionally good material for THz heterodyne detection when doped to the Dirac point,” says Samuel Lara-Avila, assistant professor at the Quantum Device Physics Laboratory and lead author of the paper.

In detail, the experimental demonstration involves heterodyne detection, in which two signals are combined, or mixed, using graphene. One signal is a high intensity wave at a known THz frequency, generated by a local source (i.e. a local oscillator). The second is a faint THz signal that mimics the waves coming from space. Graphene mixes these signals and then produces an output wave at a much lower gigahertz (GHz) frequency, called the intermediate frequency, that can be analyzed with standard low noise gigahertz electronics. The higher the intermediate frequency can be, the higher bandwidth the detector is said to have, required to accurately identify motions inside the celestial objects. Read full story here.

About the National Graphene Association (NGA)

The National Graphene Association is the main organization and body in the U.S. advocating and promoting the commercialization of graphene. NGA is focused on addressing critical issues such as policy and standards development that will result in effective integration of graphene and graphene-based materials globally. NGA brings together current and future graphene stakeholders — entrepreneurs, companies, researchers, developers and suppliers, investors, venture capitalists, and government agencies — to drive innovation, and to promote and facilitate the commercialization of graphene products and technologies.

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