Tunable Graphene-Based Method for Detecting Mid-Infrared (IR) Radiation

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Diagram showing the invention’s ultrafast detection scheme based on the plasmon-thermoelectric effect.
Debashis Chanda, Ph.D.
External Link (www.nanoscience.ucf.edu)
Sayan Chandra, Ph.D.
Michael Leuenberger, Ph.D.
External Link (www.nanoscience.ucf.edu)
Alireza Safaei
Patent Protection

US Patent Pending
Dynamically tunable extraordinary light absorption in monolayer graphene
American Physical Society, Phys. Rev. B 96, 165431 – 17 October 2017

New method offers low-cost, uncooled multi-spectral IR detection and imaging in the 8-12 µm bands

UCF researchers have invented a low-cost method that can enable ultrafast, tunable mid-IR detection and imaging without the need for expensive and complex cryogenic cooling. The novel graphene-based method paves the way for multi-spectral imaging in the mid-IR domain, which is not available in current technologies. Companies can use the invention for IR detection and imaging in the 3-5 µm range band and the 8-12 µm band for areas such as space exploration, spectroscopy, chemical/biological identification, short-range communication and remote sensing.

Current mid-IR detection and imaging systems (both cooled and uncooled) have drawbacks. For example, cooled IR detectors can achieve the high sensitivity needed to detect mid-IR photons, but they require expensive cryogenic cooling to do so. Uncooled detectors are more cost-effective, but they suffer from low sensitivity, slow response time, and require tedious, multi-step complex lithographic processes. More importantly, both types of mid-IR detectors today lack frequency tunability, since they are all single pixel (bucket) detectors that generate an integrated signal. This results in a loss of multi-spectral IR detection and imaging information. The UCF invention overcomes all of these drawbacks and limitations.

Technical Details

The new method provides tunable, uncooled mid-IR detection and imaging capabilities with microsecond response times. The nanoimprinting-based large-area patterning technique increases monolayer graphene mid-IR absorption to more than 60 percent by using a unique plasmon-assisted photothermoelectric effect. In one example application, a dielectric slab is sandwiched between an asymmetrically nanopatterned, partially perforated graphene layer, a nanostructured graphene sheet coupled with an optical cavity, and a back reflector. A process of asymmetrically heating the partially patterned graphene sheet leads to a directly measurable thermoelectric voltage. Infrared illumination is within the 3-5 µm and 8-12 µm bands.

Stage of Development

Prototype available


  • Uncooled infrared detection
  • Electrostatically tunable
  • Tunable absorption bandwidth


Uncooled, long-wave infrared detectors

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