High-Performance Thermal-Imaging Sensor

A group of researchers has created a new thermal-imaging sensor that detects microwave radiation 100,000 times more sensitively than currently available commercial sensors, paving the way for novel communications and weaponry technology.

The sensor developed by scientists could dramatically improve thermal imaging and provide a foundation for inventions in electronic warfare and radio communications, among other things.

Researchers created a microwave bolometer sensitive enough to detect a single microwave photon, the smallest amount of natural energy. The thermal-imaging sensor takes advantage of the versatile 2D material graphene’s significant thermal response to microwave radiation. It could open up new possibilities for applications such as quantum sensing and radar.

The thermal imaging sensor detects electromagnetic radiation by measuring the temperature rise caused by photon absorption. According to the researchers, the graphene in the microwave antenna contributes to the technology’s high sensitivity.

Graphene electrons are thin and have a unique band structure in which the valence and conduction bands meet at only one point, known as the Dirac point. The density of states vanishes at this point. It means that when electrons receive photon energy, the temperature rises rapidly while heat leakage is minimal.

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