Accurate Sensors, Powered by Light

A new sensor consumes power only when activated, saving lots of energy.

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Fire and burglar alarm systems require sensitive but highly selective sensors to make sure they detect what they're supposed to detect, but avoid false alarms. The sensors that can do that have a price—they consume power constantly. With the Internet of Things spreading like wildfire itself—more than 50 billion devices will be connected by 2020 in the Internet of Things—there's a need for sensors that consume little to no power. A Chinese research team has come up with a new type of light sensor that does that, they reported recently in Nature Nanotechnology. When it's not triggered, it consumes no power at all. When it is, it senses infrared light . It does this by using a manmade material called a metamaterial that converts light to heat. The result is an on-off switch that consumes no power most of the time.

Source: Nature Nanotechnology  doi:10.1038/nnano.2017.147

Also see News & Views article in Nature Nanotechnology

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