Researchers at the University of Southern California and the University of Texas at Austin have built and tested a device based on nanostructures called quantum dots that can sensitively detect infrared radiation in a crucial wavelength range.

The atmosphere is opaque to most infrared, but it is transparent for a narrow “window” between 8 and 12 microns. Night vision goggles, military target tracking devices and environmental monitors utilize this range of wavelengths.



Anupam Madhukar, holder of the Kenneth T. Norris Chair in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering with appointments in the departments of materials science, biomedical engineering and physics, says “a class of existing infrared detectors are based on what is called ’quantum well’ technology. But we have created a detector based on different physics–quantum dot physics–that works at least as well and has the potential to perform better.”



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