Researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF) have been awarded $1.3 million by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop graphene-based next-generation infrared detectors. The award will fund the team's research for the next 3.5 years.

The detector could potentially be used for night vision, meteorology and even space exploration. It is based on a novel infrared detection and imaging technology that is said to be very different than what is being currently used, since most portable infrared cameras (such as those used by police and firefighters) produce extremely blurry images. Other, more powerful infrared detectors (such as the ones used by NASA) are extremely large, expensive and only operate in low temperatures. The main obstacle is that most infrared detectors need cryogenic cooling, which is large and hard to handle.

In this study, the team plans to create a small, portable infrared detector that produces high quality images and doesn't have to be cooled. Graphene will be used in order to efficiently absorb light in the infrared domain and the scientists showed that they can also tune the response electronically.

The team plans to work with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and St. Johns Optical Systems on the integration and packaging of the new device.