December 17, 2012
New Technology Turns Any Glasses Into Night Vision Spectacles
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Nanophotonics strikes again, making it possible to add the power of night vision to any regular pair of glasses. This new technology is being developed by a team at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Beersheba, Israel and is said to be only one-micron thick.
The Israel National Nanotechnology Institute is even interested in this new technology and has offered a $6.5 million grant to BGU and other teams to create this coating.
Professor Gabby Sarusi is leading this development team to create this ultra-thin “smart-layer.” Existing night vision specs are bulky, expensive and require a heavy power supply. Professor Sarusi has said this new film can be applied to any pair of glasses, turning them instantly into a pair of night vision spectacles.
“We will use a smart layer based on nano-photonics technologies to change invisible light to visible,” explains Sarusi in a BGU press statement.
“I know what the layer architecture should be and have selected the best builder for every aspect of the glasses. The result will be like seeing at night with full moonlight.”
This new smart layer works by making use of the existing and invisible rays of light. The nanophotonics film captures these rays and transforms them into visible light. Sarusi claims this new smart film will weigh just under 2 ounces and run on a small and lightweight 20-volt battery.
“We are taking advantage of night glow as our illuminator to visualize using short wave infrared light spectrum. This is unlike night vision goggles that only amplify visible light and are therefore vulnerable to 'dazzling.´”
In addition to being lightweight and having greatly improved optics, this new technology is also expected to be far less expensive than existing night vision options.
Though Sarusi says this new technology can be useful in multiple applications, it´s likely he´s developing this film with an eye towards security. Prior to joining BGU, Sarusi spent 17 years working for Elop, an electro-optics company who has made their share of night vision and other defense-minded optical applications. In 2000, Elop merged with Elbit Systems, thus becoming the largest electro-optics company outside of the US.
While at Elop, Sarusi worked directly with building night imaging and thermal imaging sensors.
The International Nano-Science and Technology Advisory Board (INAB) praised Sarusi and his team as they provided them with the $6.5 million grant to develop this technology. In their recommendation to bestow this grant on Sarusi and team, the INAB wrote that this technology was not only more likely to succeed, but was also more likely to continue adding to the “economic potential” of Israel.
In closing, Sarusi explains that what sets this technology apart from the others is its willingness to work efficiently with whatever light is available to it.
“The device we will develop is a photons- starving device where every photon counts and the conversion efficiency from infrared photon to visible photon is the crucial issue,” explained Sarusi.
“Unlike other groups in the world that are working in this field, we will implement the most advanced research in the field.”