Monday, April 26, 2010

A Cheap, Thin Film Gives Portable Night Vision to Cell Phones and Eyeglasses

When I think of having night vision goggles, I think of the bulky head gear the troops wear when going into combat. Turns out DARPA has funded a project at the University of Florida that created a technology of a thin film that provides night vision. This thin film could potentially bring nightvision to eyeglasses, cell phone cameras and even car windshields...

Described in the journal Advanced Materials, the technology scraps conventional night vision technologies for an entirely new approach. Night vision as we know it sucks up a ton of electricity – several thousand volts at a time, according to the lead researcher on the project – to maintain a vacuum within the device.

But thin-film night vision requires no vacuum, instead using a few layers of energy-efficient OLEDs to convert infrared light to the visible spectrum. Seven separate layers of OLEDs detect IR light as it enters, generating a tiny electrical charge. A tiny amount of electricity – just three to five volts – amplifies the signal as it passes through the additional layers.

By the time the image comes out the other end, it’s converted into visible spectrum light, producing a green-lit picture similar to that of existing night vision tech. The difference: a full scale night vision device might weigh less than a quarter of a pound, with the night vision tech only being a few microns thick.

via popsci

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