Terahertz waves, or radiation that sits between infrared and microwaves on the electromagnetic spectrum, are a form of ambient radiation generated by everything from animals and humans going about their day to WiFi internet signals. T-rays are a byproduct of just about anything with a measurable temperature.
A team of MIT scientists is working on a way to harness these otherwise inaccessible T-rays in a way that could see them powering our mobile devices, or even medical implants, according to Network World.
The idea is for devices equipped to passively collect these T-rays and convert them to DC current, a feat that has not been accomplished at room temperature so far. A device called a terahertz rectifier would collect T-rays using a layer of graphene placed on top of a layer of boron nitride.
The addition of the boron nitride is essential to controlling how T-rays act when they contact the graphene. Graphene by itself causes the rays to scatter in every direction, but the boron nitride forces the graphene electrons to move in a single direction, which creates DC current.
The team is attempting to create a terahertz rectifier, wrapping the layers of graphene and boron nitride inside an antenna to collect T-rays and boost the electrical signal. A prototype is being designed now, and the team has applied for a patent.