The first-of-its-kind thin film, described in a new article published in Advanced Photonics, is ultra-compact and one day could work on standard glasses.
The researchers say the new prototype tech, based on nanoscale crystals, could be used for defence, as well as making it safer to drive at night and walking home after dark.
The team also say the work of police and security guards – who regularly employ night vision – will be easier and safer, reducing chronic neck injuries from currently bulk night-vision devices.
“We have made the invisible visible,” lead researcher Dr Rocio Camacho Morales said.
“Our technology is able to transform infrared light, normally invisible to the human eye, and turn this into images people can clearly see – even at distance.
“We’ve made a very thin film, consisting of nanometre-scale crystals, hundreds of times thinner than a human hair, that can be directly applied to glasses and acts as a filter, allowing you to see in the darkness of the night.”
The technology is extremely lightweight, cheap and easy to mass produce, making them accessible to everyday users.
Currently, high-end infrared imaging tech requires cryogenic freezing to work and are costly to produce. This new tech works at room temperatures.
Dragomir Neshev, Director of the ARC Centre for Excellence in Transformative Meta-Optical Systems (TMOS) and ANU Professor in Physics, said the new tech used meta-surfaces, or thin films, to manipulate light in new ways.
“This is the first time anywhere in the world that infrared light has been successfully transformed into visible images in an ultra-thin screen,” Professor Neshev said.[…]