Using carpets of aligned carbon nanotubes, researchers from Rice University and Sandia National Laboratories have created a solid-state electronic device that is hardwired to detect polarized light across a broad swath of the visible and infrared spectrum.
The research is available online from the American Chemical Society’s journal ACS Nano.
“Detecting polarized light is extremely useful,” said Rice’s Junichiro Kono, professor of electrical and computer engineering and of physics and astronomy. “Many animals and insects can see polarized light and use it for navigation, communication and more. Humans can’t see polarized light, so we rely on devices to do that for us.”
Most devices can’t detect polarized light directly. Instead, engineers place a grate or filter in front of the detector.
“Our photodetector discerns polarized light intrinsically, much like the photoreceptors in the eyes of animals and insects that see polarized light,” said François Léonard at Sandia National Laboratories, one of the lead researchers on the study.
Polarized light consists of individual electromagnetic waves oscillating parallel to one another. The effect is created when light reflects from a transparent material, which is why polarized sunglasses reduce the glare from water, glass and other surfaces. Astronomers use polarized light in a number of ways, and there are a number of applications for polarimetry in communications and the military.
Read more at: Phys.org