In recent years, Internet-connected devices have flooded many areas of human activity. We have smart watches, refrigerators, bells for the front doors, cars and more.
Nevertheless, many experts are not yet satisfied and estimate that ”the Internet of Things” has not been extended enough.
”What if we could integrate electronics everywhere”
Thomas Palacio, an electrical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), recently wondered.
”What would happen e.g. if we could find out the weather bulletin of the day just looking out of a window, if the electronics in my coat could make measurements for my health?”.
In 2019, Dr. Palacio and his colleagues published a study in the journal Nature describing a discovery that would bring this wonderful future closer: an antenna that could capture Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and mobile signals and effectively convert them into electricity.
Key to this innovative technology is a promising new material: molybdenum disulfide, which can be deposited in a layer with minimal thickness. In terms of mechanics, nothing could be thinner. Of course the ”thin” is extremely useful, as a layer of molybdenum disulfide could ”wrap” an office turning it into it into a laptop charger, without the need of any cable.
According to Dr. Palacio and other researchers, the two-dimensional materials will be the central axis of the ”Internet of All Things”. With these they can ”paint” bridges by creating sensors that will detect fractures and cracks. They will cover windows, with transparent layers, which will become visible only when information is displayed on them. If indeed the radio absorber of the Palacio’s team succeeds, it will provide energy to the ubiquitous electronics.
The interest in such two-dimensional materials is global. Singapore, for example, is a city famous for its worship of the green. Dr Liu Zheng of the city-state Technological University of Nanyang believes that in his laboratory there is a form of cultivation.
”I’m a gardener”,
”And my two-dimensional garden is wonderful, with all kinds of flowers. They’re all beautiful. ”
Last year, Dr. Zheng and his colleagues expanded this garden by creating dozens of new two-dimensional materials (transition metal chalcogenides) also known as TMCs. Their basic discovery was that with the use of table salt they managed to reduce the melting point of metals, allowing them to evaporate and settle in extremely thin layers. Already, Nanyang University of Technology discusses with manufacturers for the commercial use of pioneering technology.
Of course, the future is not yet two-dimensional, but surely that time is getting closer and faster.