An extremely enlarged view of a nano-bolometer. (click for scale)
JPL physicist Boris S. Karasik co-leads a research team that will help astronomers see invisible light. The team developed a hot-electron nano-bolometer -- a tiny device that measures the energy of electromagnetic radiation -- that is incredibly sensitive to invisible light in the far-infrared spectrum. Such light makes up 98 percent of the light emitted since the birth of the universe billions of years ago.

The next steps for this NASA-funded research are to build and test optical arrays of these nano-detectors made of titanium, Karasik said. These devices may be used in far-infrared space telescopes 10 to 20 years from now. Less-sensitive versions of these devices, he added, may be used much sooner in telescopes on suborbital balloons and aircraft, and even in ground-based telescopes.

Karasik and Michael Gershenson, a physics professor at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J., lead the team, which includes JPL researcher Sergey Perverzev, a senior NASA postdoctoral fellow, and researchers from the State University of New York at Buffalo. The team's research will be published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology . A digital version appears on the journal's Web site.

View the Rutgers University news release

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Media contact: Rhea Borja/JPL