25 June 2021

New ultra-thin night vision technology makes the invisible, visible

| Dominic Giannini
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Dr Rocio Camacho Morales with the new technology

New ultra-thin technology is revolutionising night vision. Photo: ANU.

Games of hide and seek may become a lot more high tech with Australian National University (ANU) researchers working to make new revolutionary, ultra-thin night vision technology able to operate on standard glasses.

The technology may prove to be a game-changer for professions like police and security guards, making it easier and cheaper for employees to access technology that makes their job safer.

The compact technology is also more ergonomic than the current night vision headgear associated with special forces and action movies.

Lead researcher Dr Rocio Camacho Morales said the technology has made the invisible, visible.

“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,” she said.

“We have 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.”

Dr Rocio Camacho Morales

ANU’s Dr Rocio Camacho Morales is revolutionising night vision. Photo: ANU.

Current high-end infrared technology used for night vision requires cryogenic freezing to work, making it costly to build.

However, Dr Morales’ research has enabled the technology to work at room temperature making it more accessible and easy to mass produce.

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ANU Physics Professor and Director of the ARC Centre for Excellence in Transformative Meta-Optical Systems (TMOS), Dragomir Neshev, lauded the world-first technology.

“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.

“It’s a really exciting development and one that we know will change the landscape for night vision forever.”

The current development is the first proof-of-concept experiment but the research team is actively working towards further advancements.

The technology was co-developed by an international team of researchers from TMOS, ANU, Nottingham Trent University, UNSW and other European partners.

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