A device made with multiple carbon nanotubes would be easier to construct and the resulting larger area would be more sensitive to light. A larger size is also more practical for applications.
Now, they are setting their sites on detecting infrared light. "We think this principle can be applied to infrared light and there is a lot of interest in infrared detection," says Vance. "So we're in the process of looking for dyes that work in infrared."
This research eventually could be used for a number of exciting applications, such as an optical detector with nanometer scale resolution, ultra-tiny digital cameras, solar cells with more light absorption capability, or even genome sequencing. The near-term purpose, however, is basic science.
"A large part of why we are doing this is not to invent a photo detector, but to understand the processes involved in controlling carbon nanotube devices," says Lonard.
The next step in the project is to create a nanometer-scale photovoltaic device. Such a device on a larger scale could be used as an unpowered photo detector or for solar energy. "Instead of monitoring current changes, we'd actually generate current," says Vance. "We have an idea of how to do it, but it will be a more challenging fabrication process."
|Contact: Mike Janes|
DOE/Sandia National Laboratories