Thursday, June 13, 2024

Lightweight Night Vision For Everyday Use

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Researchers at TMOS and the ARC Center of Excellence have developed a thinner than cling wrap infrared filter for night vision.

Infrared (IR) to visible (VIS) up-conversion for vision applications. a) Schematic of the nonlinear up-converter for infrared imaging, where infrared light illuminating an object and passing through a lens (L1) is coherently up-converted to visible light and captured by another lens (L2) to be finally observed on a conventional silicon-based camera. b) The ideal up-converter shall convert all rays, incident at different angles, with the same efficiency, i.e., H(k) = constant. Credit: Advanced Materials (2024). DOI: 10.1002/adma.202402777
Infrared (IR) to visible (VIS) up-conversion for vision applications. a) Schematic of the nonlinear up-converter for infrared imaging, where infrared light illuminating an object and passing through a lens (L1) is coherently up-converted to visible light and captured by another lens (L2) to be finally observed on a conventional silicon-based camera. b) The ideal up-converter shall convert all rays, incident at different angles, with the same efficiency, i.e., H(k) = constant. Credit: Advanced Materials (2024). DOI: 10.1002/adma.202402777

Traditionally, night vision technology has been bulky and heavy, limiting its use to the military, hunters, and photographers. However, advancements in miniaturization now allow for lightweight night vision filters that can be applied as a thin film to regular glasses, making the technology accessible for everyday use and broadening its applications.

Researchers at TMOS, the ARC Center of Excellence for Transformative Meta-Optical Systems, have achieved a breakthrough in night vision technology by developing an infrared filter thinner than cling wrap. This advancement could potentially enable the filter’s integration into regular eyewear, allowing users to see both the infrared and visible light spectrums simultaneously.

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Such consumer night vision glasses, which enable the wearer to view both the visible and infrared spectrums simultaneously, could enhance safety during nighttime driving, make evening walks safer, and reduce the need for cumbersome, uncomfortable headlamps in low-light work environments.

Traditional night vision systems, which are heavy and bulky, require cryogenic cooling to mitigate the thermal noise amplified during the process. These systems also tend to block visible light, adding to their limitations.

Conversely, the new metasurface-based upconversion technology simplifies the structure significantly. Photons pass through a single resonant metasurface, mixed with a pump beam. This process enhances the photon’s energy, shifting it into the visible light spectrum without converting it into electrons. Additionally, this technology operates at room temperature, thus eliminating the need for cumbersome cooling systems.

Moreover, while traditional systems produce separate images for infrared and visible spectrums, up-conversion technology merges both into a single coherent image.

This innovation builds upon previous work involving a gallium arsenide metasurface. The updated technology uses a lithium niobate metasurface, which is fully transparent in the visible range and significantly more efficient. Furthermore, the photon beam covers a broader surface area, reducing angular data loss.

Reference: Laura Valencia Molina et al, Enhanced Infrared Vision by Nonlinear Up‐Conversion in Nonlocal Metasurfaces, Advanced Materials (2024). DOI: 10.1002/adma.202402777

Nidhi Agarwal
Nidhi Agarwal
Nidhi Agarwal is a journalist at EFY. She is an Electronics and Communication Engineer with over five years of academic experience. Her expertise lies in working with development boards and IoT cloud. She enjoys writing as it enables her to share her knowledge and insights related to electronics, with like-minded techies.

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