High Performance Biodegradable Low-Cost Nanohybrids for Opto Electronics

Track Code: 
15KU047L
Summary: 

This invention introduces carbon-biomaterial nanohybrids for use in high-performance, low-cost optoelectronic devices such as infrared detectors.

Overview: 
Thermal sensing devices such as thermographic cameras make use of infrared (IR) detectors that can be either cooled or uncooled. Uncooled IR detectors are more practical and cost-effective for typical applications, but their performance is limited by the properties of their key materials (often conventional semiconductors such as vanadium oxide, VO2). Single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT)-based photodetectors have received strong attention in the past two decades based on their strong light absorption, efficiency, and low cost. However, the photoexcited electron-hole pairs (or excitons) in SWCNTs have unusually high binding energy, which hinders the excitons' dissociation into photocurrents. An effective exciton dissociation mechanism therefore represents a critical challenge toward high-performance CNT-based IR detectors. Previous research has shown that SWCNT-polymer nanohybrids form heterojunctions that improve performance. The present invention provides further improvement by replacing the polymer with biological macromolecules.

To learn more about the technology a published manuscript (pdf) is available for download.
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Applications: 

Low-cost uncooled photodetectors for use in thermal sensing devices.

How it works: 

The feasibility of this invention has been demonstrated by KU researchers using the Cytochrome complex (Cyt c) biomolecule. Solutions of Cyt c and SWCNTs were mixed to promote self-assembly of SWCNT/Cyt c hybrid building blocks (helical wrapping of Cyt c around each SWCNT). The resulting thin films provide a composite of well-dispersed heterojunctions. When light impinges onto the photodetector, excitons generate in the SWCNTs and rapidly diffuse to the heterojunction interface where the Cyt c accepts the electrons and conducts to the external electrode.

Benefits: 

Near infrared (NIR) responsivity of this invention has been measured at levels more than two orders of magnitude better than SWCNT-polymer hybrids. This result suggests that SWCNT-biomolecule hybrids may lead to uncooled IR detectors with unprecedented performance.

Why it is better: 

CNT-based photodetectors show great potential to outperform conventional semiconductor-based photodetectors. This invention presents the best performance yet achieved using CNTs and thus presents a promising basis for future photodetector technology.

Other Applications: 

Photonics, optoelectronics, and other electronic devices.

Licensing Associate: 
Michael Patterson, JD · m.patterson@ku.edu · 785-864-6397
Category(s): 
Keyword(s): 
Inventor(s): 
Judy Wu
Qingfeng Liu
Youpin Gong