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A team of UO physicists has drummed up a new way of measuring light: using microscopic drums to hear light.
The technology out of the Alemán Lab, known as a "graphene nanomechanical bolometer," leverages a promising new method and material to detect nearly every color of light at high speeds and high temperatures.
Tool - Class - Benjamín - Alemán - Professor
"This tool is the fastest and most sensitive in its class," said Benjamín Alemán, a professor of physics and a member of the UO's Center for Optical, Molecular, and Quantum Science and an associate of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact.
The device offers an alternative to the conventional way of using electricity to measure light, as found in devices like a smartphone's camera. Instead, this mechanical method captures the vibrations of infinitesimally thin drums that are caused by light. The physicists obtain measurements by listening to the sound of the light absorbed by the drumhead.
Way - Technology - Effect - Drum - Day
The way the technology works is similar to the effect of banging a drum on a hot day. As the instrument heats up under the piping sun, the drumhead membrane will expand and its pitch changes, emitting a different tone than it would at cooler temperatures.
The waves of light do the same thing to the mechanical bolometers. As light hits the device's drumhead, the membrane heats up, expands, and the vibrational pitch changes. The physicists can track these pitch changes to measure how much light hits the device.
Way - Light - David - Miller - Student
"This is a very new way of detecting light," said David Miller, a doctoral student in the Alemán Lab. "We're using a purely mechanical method to turn light into sound. This has the advantage of being able to see a much broader range of light."
He goes on to explain that conventional detectors are very reliable at reading high-energy light, like visible light or X-rays,...
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