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Physicists Develop Fast and Sensitive Mechanical Tool to Measure Light

23 Oct 2019, 15:49 UTC
Physicists Develop Fast and Sensitive Mechanical Tool to Measure Light
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A team of University of Oregon physicists has developed a fast, sensitive bolometer that can measure light at and far above room-temperature. The technology out of the Alemán Lab, known as a "graphene nanomechanical bolometer," leverages a new method and an ultrathin material, and could have wide-spread use in everything from astronomy and medicine to fire fighting."This tool is the fastest and most sensitive in its class," said Benjamín Alemán, a professor of physics at the University of Oregon and a member of the UO's Center for Optical, Molecular, and Quantum Science and an associate of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact.The device, which consists of a trampoline-shaped piece of graphene suspended over a hole, offers an alternative to conventional electronic light detectors, like those found in a smartphone's camera. Instead, the Alemán Lab uses a mechanical method to relate absorbed light to small changes in the mechanical resonance frequency of the graphene trampoline.The way the technology works is similar to the effect of banging a drum on a hot day. As the instrument heats up under the piping sun, the drumhead membrane will expand and its pitch changes - emitting a different tone than it ...

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