It sounds like something from a spy thriller movie: putting on contact lenses that give you infrared vision without the need for a bulky contraption that covers your face. But now, thanks to research at the University of Michigan, such a contact lens is a real possibility.
The Michigan researchers turned to the optical capabilities of graphene to create their infrared contact lens. IBM last year demonstrated some of the photoconductivity mechanisms of graphene that make it an attractive infrared detector.
Graphene is capable of detecting the entire infrared spectrum, with visible and ultraviolet light thrown in. But where graphene giveth, it also taketh away. Because graphene is only one atom thick, it can absorb only 2.3 percent of the light that hits it. This is not enough to generate an electrical signal, and without a signal, it can't operate as a infrared sensor.