Researchers have tried a variety of methods to develop detectors that are responsive to a broad range of infrared light — which could form imaging arrays for security systems, or solar cells that harness a broader range of sunlight’s energy — but these methods have all faced limitations. Now, a new system developed by researchers at five institutions, including MIT, could eliminate many of those limitations.
The new approach is described in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications by MIT graduate student Jonathan Mailoa, associate professor of mechanical engineering Tonio Buonassisi, and 11 others.
According to Buonassisi the new system works at room temperature and provides a broad infrared response. It incorporates atoms of gold into the surface of silicon’s crystal structure in a way that maintains the material’s original structure. Additionally, it has the advantage of using silicon, a common semiconductor that is relatively low-cost, easy to process, and abundant.
Photo courtesy of the researchers