It sounds like something out of a Bond flick but night vision lenses may not be too far away. Electrical and computer engineers at the University of Michigan are working on the technology using graphene to sense infrared light but they have a few more obstacles to cross.
The graphene can sense “the full infrared spectrum” and has been developed in a very slim layer that can be integrated into a normal-looking contact lens. Night vision captures the infrared of a light spectrum, which is emitted by heat. Unlike traditional night vision technology, graphene, which is a thin single layer of carbon atoms, does not need any cooling equipment to counteract heat radiation.
One of the issues facing graphene is that it can only absorb about 2.3% of the light that hits it. “The challenge for the current generation of graphene-based detectors is that their sensitivity is typically very poor,” said Zhaohui Zhong, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. “It’s 100 to 1,000 times lower than what a commercial device would require.”
The research is ongoing but can be read now on the university’s website.