A team led by the University of Minnesota has achieved a groundbreaking feat in materials engineering. For the first time, they have successfully created an atomically thin material that can absorb nearly 100% of light at room temperature. This remarkable discovery has the potential to significantly improve a wide range of applications, from optical communications to stealth technology.
The team's findings were published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications, highlighting the significance of their research. Materials that can absorb almost all incident light, meaning very little light passes through or reflects off them, are highly valuable for applications involving light detection and control.
Steven Koester, a professor in the College of Science and Engineering and a senior author of the paper, explained the importance of their work in the context of optical communications. Optical communications play a crucial role in various aspects of our lives, such as the internet, where optical detectors connect fiber optic links. By achieving near-perfect light absorption, this research has the potential to enable optical communications to operate at higher speeds and with greater efficiency, enhancing our overall connectivity and data transmission capabilities.
The researchers accomplished this feat by employing a technique called band nesting. They manipulated the already unique electrical properties of a material composed of only two to three layers of atoms. The fabrication method used in this process is both simple and low-cost, requiring no nanopatterning methods. This ease of production and scalability make it stand out compared to other light-absorbing materials under study.
Tony Low, an associate professor in the College of Science and Engineering, emphasized the key innovation in achieving near-perfect light absorption using just two or three atomic layers of material at room temperature. This breakthrough was achieved without resorting to complex and expensive patterning techniques, making it a more feasible and cost-effective approach to creating perfect absorbers.
Source: University of Minnesota