By Boston Business Journal

The next big thing in solar energy just might be graphene. Itâ¿¿s early, but researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found that the carbon-based material shows off an unusual reaction to light, raising the possibility that it could be useful for night-vision systems, photodetectors and generating electricity from sunlight.

The MIT News Office today provided a glimpse into work done by researchers at MIT and the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan. Their paper is being published by the journal Science.

Graphene is a form of carbon based on sheets that a only one atom thick.

According to the researchers, shining light on a sheet of graphene that has been treated to establish two regions with different electrical properties creates a temperature difference and a subsequent electrical current.

⿿Our work is mostly fundamental physics,⿝ said senior author on the paper and assistant professor of physics at MIT Pablo Jarillo-Herrero. ⿿Many people believe that graphene could be used for a whole variety of applications.⿝

Other potential applications include detecting disease or food contamination.

Copyright 2011 American City Business Journals

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