New York: Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have integrated graphene with silicon micro-electromechanical systems (known as MEMS) to make a flexible, transparent and low-cost infrared vision system.
Testing showed it could be used to detect a person's heat signature at room temperature without cryogenic cooling.
A thermal sensor could be based on a single layer of graphene, which would make it transparent and flexible, said lead researcher Tomas Palacios from MIT.
The concept of humans - or aliens - having the power to see in the infrared to help fight enemies in the dark has been around for decades.
Technology has allowed real-life military, police, firefighters and others to do their jobs successfully at night and in smoky conditions.
It also helps manufacturers and building inspectors identify overheating equipment or circuits.
But currently, many of these systems require cryogenic cooling to filter out background radiation, or "noise", and create a reliable image.
This approach, however, complicates the design of these imaging devices, and adds to the cost and the unit's bulkiness.
The findings appeared in in the ACS' journal Nano Letters.