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New nano-material combinations produce leap in infrared technology
Date:2/14/2012

Arizona State University researchers are finding ways to improve infrared photodetector technology that is critical to national defense and security systems, as well as used increasingly in commercial applications and consumer products.

A significant advance is reported in a recent article in the journal Applied Physics Letters. It details discovery of how infrared photodetection can be done more effectively by using certain materials arranged in specific patterns in atomic-scale structures.

It's being accomplished by using multiple ultrathin layers of the materials that are only several nanometers thick. Crystals are formed in each layer. These layered structures are then combined to form what are termed "superlattices."

Photodetectors made of different crystals absorb different wavelengths of light and convert them into an electrical signal. The conversion efficiency achieved by these crystals determines a photodectector's sensitivity and the quality of detection it provides, explains electrical engineer Yong-Hang Zhang.

The unique property of the superlattices is that their detection wavelengths can be broadly tuned by changing the design and composition of the layered structures. The precise arrangements of the nanoscale materials in superlattice structures helps to enhance the sensitivity of infrared detectors, Zhang says.

Zhang is a professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, one of ASU's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He is leading the work on infrared technology research in ASU's Center for Photonics Innovation. More information can be found at the center's Optoelectronics Group website at http://asumbe.eas.asu.edu/

Additional research in this area is being supported by a grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Re
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Contact: Joe Kullman
joe.kullman@asu.edu
480-965-8122
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert

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