Nanoscale Infrared Detector Breakthrough Could Boost Satellite Imaging Power By 20 Times

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have turned a sheet of nano-thin gold into what could be the next big advance in infrared technology. Taking advantage of the unique properties of gold at the nanoscale, scientists there have created a "microlens" system that could boost detectivity in quantum-dot-based IR detectors by 20 times.

Enhancing IR sensors is difficult because, as a general rule, increasing the amount of signal a detector takes in also increases the amount of noise it takes in, spoiling the benefit derived from increased exposure. Current mercury-cadmium-telluride (MCT) tech takes in a strong signal, but the long exposure times necessary for low-signal imaging also allow for increased noise, making it tough to expand further on conventional detectors.

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