Using a new method, researchers have developed low-cost, ultra-thin infrared film that can be converted into images visible to the human eye.
Here at Springwise, we have followed a number of developments in nano technology, including a nanosensor that can sniff for food pathogens and a molecular robot. Now, researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have developed incredibly thin infrared sensors that could one day be used to create ultra-thin night-vision glasses. Professor Gabby Sarusi, of the university’s Unit of Electro-Optical Engineering and the Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, has developed a film that can read 1,500-nanometer infrared wavelengths, and convert them into images that are visible to the human eye. The film is just half a micron in thickness and is made up of nano-metric layers and metal foil. It is powered by a small battery.
By placing the nano-film in front of normal lenses, the lenses can be transformed into infrared devices. Similarly, placing the film on vision sensors could transform them into infrared sensors. This would allow for the creation of lightweight night goggles, such as those used by soldiers and police. The film would also allow night vision goggles to use far less energy than currently.
In addition to its application in night vision goggles, Sarusi believes the infrared film could have other uses. For example, in autonomous cars. Sarusi suggests that the film could be used on the cameras of autonomous cars. This will allow for safer driving in fog and darkness. With a normal infrared sensor costing around USD 3,000, and the new film costing around just USD 5, the film could also enable the creation of low-cost sensors that can be used in mass production. Other uses could include adding infrared capability to smartphone cameras or robots. The university has begun licensing the film and expects commercialisation to take place in the next two years. What other uses could there be for an ultra-thin infrared sensor?