Flexible and mobile computers that can be rolled like a magazine. Cameras with night vision that can make good pictures and good video shooting even without light. Windshield that will increase the brightness of the road and the scenery when driving at night … These are some of the many advances that are made possible by a flexible electronic device ultrasensitive to light developed by researchers at Fotòniques Sciences Institute (ICFO).
The invention is based on graphene, the thin and resilient material which has been found, consisting of a sheet of carbon atoms arranged in one plane. Graphene promises to revolutionize the world of electronics, as noted Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel when its discoverers in physics in 2010. But so far nobody had been able to create a device based on graphene for consumer electronics products.
They have done ICFO researchers and Gerasimos Konstantatos Frank Koppens. Key to his invention has been to place a crystal layer of quantum dots (Konstantatos specialty) on the graphene sheet (the specialty of Koppens). Quantum dots are spheres of 5 nm in diameter that absorb light very efficiently. Thus, it has been possible to overcome the barrier posed by the low capacity to absorb light having graphene. According to research results presented in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, was multiplied by one billion graphene sensitivity to light.
After this breakthrough, “applications for consumer electronics are just around the corner, and the potential market is huge,” said Frank Koppens, a research program Cellex ICFO Nest-signed two years ago from Harvard University .
The ICFO has patented the invention and is studying the possibility of creating a company to exploit it commercially, informs Silvia Carrasco, director technology transfer the institute. An alternative would be associated with any of the multinational mobile or medical imaging technologies have been interested in the advance.
Potential device applications include two large areas. On the one hand, the flexibility of graphene opens the way to create electronic products that you can fold, from mobile phones to television screens. Creating these products require flexible to other components of the apparatus, something “in what is already working,” says Koppens.
On the other hand, the high light sensitivity of the device, which may have cost less than a euro-opens the way to create innovative products photodetection. Among them, Koppens highlights the night vision cameras and detectors of molecules-based on analysis spectroscopic of light that reflect-for medical diagnosis or the pharmaceutical industry.