A team of researchers at MIT, Raytheon BBN Technologies and Columbia University have used graphene to design a fast yet highly sensitive bolometer that can work at room temperature and may even be less expensive. Bolometers are devices that monitor electromagnetic radiation through heating of an absorbing material. Most such devices have limited bandwidth and must be operated at ultralow temperatures, which damages their usefulness.
The findings of this work could help pave the way toward new kinds of astronomical observatories for long-wavelength emissions, new heat sensors for buildings, and even new kinds of quantum sensing and information processing devices, the multidisciplinary research team says.
“We believe that our work opens the door to new types of efficient bolometers based on low-dimensional materials,” says the paper’s senior author. He says the new system, based on the heating of electrons in a small piece of graphene, for the first time combines both high sensitivity and high bandwidth — orders of magnitude greater than that of conventional bolometers — in a single device.
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