According to recent research published in Nature Nanotechnology, engineers at the University of Michigan are working to create graphene contact lenses that will permit the wearer to not only see visible light but also ultra-violet light and the entire infrared spectrum. Professors Gerard A. Mourou and Zhaohui Zhong have come up with the first room-temperature light detector that can be “stacked on a contact lens or integrated with a cell phone”.
Prior to the pair’s findings, one was required to merge multiple unwieldy technologies in order to discern near, mid and far infrared radiation at one time. The answer to this cumbersome quandary came to the pair of “profs” in the form of graphene. Graphene is essentially one layer of carbon atoms that catches the entire spectrum. It’s limited, however, in that it’s not big enough to catch over 2.3% of all light.
Zhong states: “The challenge for the current generation of graphene-based detectors is that their sensitivity is typically very poor. It’s a hundred to a thousand times lower than what a commercial device would require.”
Mourou and Zhong have come up with a new method of generating an electrical signal by conveying the present charge in graphene to a local current and converting the small layer of carbon into a workable sensor. Soon contact lenses may not only offer freedom but have medical and military applications as well. Mourou and Zhong believe that “compact heat-based” tech could be used in many different fields. Those in the medical profession could use it to monitor blood flow and museum staff could more easily restore art.
There are also significant ramifications in terms of range and ease of use. Zhong concludes: “If we integrate it with a contact lens or other wearable electronics, it expands your vision. It provides you another way of interacting with your environment.”
(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)