Saturday 31 May 2014

Graphene Contact Lenses Let You See in the Dark


Thanks to graphene contact lenses, we all might be able to experience soon the super hero ability of having night vision. According to Zhaohui Zhong, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Michigan, contact lenses one day in the near future will be able to register the entire infrared spectrum as well as visible and ultraviolet light.
There have been previous attempts to use graphene on contact lenses for this purpose, but they were unsuccessful, because of graphene’s insensitivity to certain parts of the light spectrum.
Zhong and the rest of his research team from Michigan solved this problem by creating a sandwich of layers. There would be an insulating barrier between two extremely thin slices of graphene, and an electrical current would then be sent through the bottom layer. The design would, according to Zhong, be “super-thin,” and it could, he added: “be stacked on a contact lens or integrated with a cell phone.”

What use would anyone have for graphene contact lenses?

Why would anyone want a pair of graphene contact lenses, you might well ask; just how useful would having night vision be, unless you were in the military?

There are many, many reasons why a person would want to have graphene contact lenses. They would be very useful to hunters of fishermen at night, policemen, firemen, and any other job where people have to sometimes work in almost total darkness. Ghost hunters like Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin, of the TV series “Ghost Adventures,” would love using this sort of technology.
The graphene contact lenses would be great for use by everyone else who has ever stumbled over a child’s toy in the middle of the night, or who has had to walk back to his/her car after a late-night movie or concert. They could also be useful for driving at night in places where there are not lit up by street lights.

How are graphene contact lenses better than current night-vision devices?

Graphene contact lenses are better than current night-vision devices because they are not nearly as bulky; they don’t require cooling equipment so that the heat detectors won’t get confused by the heat radiation that they, themselves, emit; and they can do “the same thing by using only a few layers of the atom-thick material,” according to a report in the Business Standard.
Current night-vision technology involves capturing the light spectrum’s infrared portion. The infrared portion is the heat that objects, humans, and animals emit, as opposed to light reflected off of objects.
The best night vision technology works by capturing the infrared portion of the light spectrum. Infrared is the part that is emitted as heat by objects, instead of reflected as light.

Other Uses for the Graphene Technology

Zhong mentioned other possible uses for the new graphene technology. For instance, he suggested that it could be used by doctors to monitor the blood flow of a patient without the necessity of moving them or subjecting them to being scanned. Also, art historians could be able to detect layers of paint and possibly entire paintings hidden underneath the surface of paintings.
Graphene contact lenses are just one of many uses that scientists and researchers have been developing. Some others include being able to charge your smartphone up in just 5 seconds; clumping together radioactive waste, making cleanup of it much easier and safer; in the manufacture of tennis racquets; creating filters to make even salt water drinkable; and it could be used to create super-thin, unbreakable touchscreens for your iPhones.
The potential uses for graphene are almost limitless, but what can beat the sensation you could have wearing graphene contact lenses that would enable you to see at night? One day you might be able to do just that, and unleash your inner Batman or Batwoman!

Written by: Douglas Cobb from nonotechnology now
Nature Nanotechnology journal article

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