Many materials are being examined for their photoelectric properties, including carbon nanotubes, for potential use in optoelectronic devices and solar cells. Previous efforts with nanotubes however have had mixed results, but that has changed now. Researchers at Rice University and Sandia National Laboratory have created a broad-spectrum photodetector out of nanotubes that could revolutionize multiple kinds of technologies.
The previous work with nanotubes for optoelectronics focused on single nanotubes, which react with a limited number of wavelengths, and random networks of nanotubes that worked well, but were hard to explain. This work is a kind of middle-ground as all of the nanotubes are the same length, but vary in width, and with so many of them connected to two electrodes, the resulting carpet absorbs a lot of light. It actually captures infrared photons, ultraviolet photons, and every frequency of photon between, which is extremely impressive. All of this is also done at room temperatures and without a special vacuum.
Potentially we could see this technology used for advanced solar panels but also infrared cameras, which typically require low temperatures. By operating at room temperatures, we could see this used to create a more easily operated infrared light sensors for use by the military.
Source: Rice University