New metamaterials-based technology could replace infrared sensors

Gold-Plated Crystals Set New Standard

Gold-Plated Crystals Set New Standard for Natural Gas Detectors
A prototype infrared detector made with the new metamaterial technology by SRICO.

Online — Materials scientists and engineers have developed a sensor that is fast, sensitive and efficient enough to detect specific wavelengths of electromagnetic energy while on the move.

The technology could actively scan areas for methane or natural gas leaks, monitor the health of vast fields of crops or quickly sort plastics for recycling.

Working closely with the optoelectronic materials company SRICO, engineers from Duke University have built a prototype detector that beats the existing competition in size, weight, power, speed and, most importantly, cost.

The new technology relies on metamaterials—engineered structures made of carefully designed repeating cells that can interact with electromagnetic waves in unnatural ways.

By combining seemingly simple patterns of metal with extremely thin slices of perfect crystals, the engineers created a streamlined device able to detect invisible infrared signatures emitted by various kinds of gasses, plastics and other sources.

The results appeared on February 20, 2017, in the journal Optica.

“The benefit of using metamaterials is that different components required in a detector can be combined into one feature,” said Willie Padilla, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke.

“That simplification gains you a lot of efficiency.”

Read the complete, original news story written by Ken Kingery at Duke online at: https://ece.duke.edu/about/news/gold-plated-crystals-set-new-standard-natural-gas-detectors

Read another article on this research online at: http://www.materialstoday.com/electronic-properties/news/efficient-infrared-detector-from-metamaterials/.

This research was supported by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (W311SR-14-C-0006).

Citation: Jonathan Y Suen, Kebin Fan, John Montoya, Christopher Bingham, Vincent Stenger, Sri Sriram, Willie J. Padilla. “Multifunctional metamaterial pyroelectric infrared detectors.” Optica, 2017. DOI: 10.1364/OPTICA.4.000276