0

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

New materials let us do new amazing things, and this is just one simple example.

 

Love the Exponential Future? Join our XPotential Community, future proof yourself with courses from XPotential Universityconnect, watch a keynote, or browse my blog.

Recently we’ve seen a number of different breakthroughs in developing night vision systems that turn night into day, give soldiers Predator Vision, and let mice see in the dark – by turning them into “super” mice. And now, in another breakthrough, a simple transparent metallic film that lets people see in the dark could one day turn regular spectacles into night vision googles.

 

RELATED
Housing company Apis Cor is 3D printing new houses in a day

 

The ultra-thin film, made of a semiconductor called gallium arsenide, could also be used to develop compact and flexible infrared sensors, scientists say. Though still a proof of concept, the researchers believe it could eventually be turned into a cheap and lightweight replacement for bulky night-vision goggles, which are used in military, police and security settings.

The film was developed by a team of Australian and European researchers, with details published in the journal Advanced Photonics. It works by converting infrared light – which is normally invisible to humans – into light visible to the human eye.

 

RELATED
Companies are racing to fill the seas with autonomous drone ships

 

The study’s first author, Dr Rocio Camacho Morales of the Australian National University, said the material was hundreds of times thinner than a strand of human hair. The gallium arsenide is arranged in a crystalline structure only several hundred nanometres thick, which allows visible light to pass through it.

The film has certain similarities to night vision goggles.

“The way traditional night vision goggles work is they also pick up infrared light,” said Camacho Morales. “This infrared light is converted to electrons and displayed digitally. In our case, we’re not doing this.”

 

RELATED
Lockheed's new camera puts a space telescope in your pocket

 

Instead, the film, which does not require any power source, changes the energy of photons of light passing through it, in what is known as a nonlinear optical process.

One likely advantage of this film over existing technologies is weight – bulky helmet-mounted night vision goggles have previously been associated with neck pain in airforce pilots, for example.

Photons of infrared light have very low energy, Camacho Morales said, which means that electronic night vision devices can be affected by random fluctuations in signal. To minimise these fluctuations, many infrared imaging devices use cooling systems, sometimes requiring cryogenic temperatures. Another advantage of the nanofilm is that it works at room temperature.

 

RELATED
Scientists have created a living material that has the three signs of life

 

“We’re avoiding the problems of having to cool down the camera and display equipment,” Camacho Morales said.

If a person were to wear glasses fitted with the film during the day, they would still be able to see what is normally visible to the naked eye, she said. “And on top of that you would see some infrared information.”

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *