ANU scientists have designed a nano crystal around 500 times smaller than a human hair that turns darkness into visible light and can be used to create light-weight night-vision glasses.
Professor Dragomir Neshev from ANU said the new night-vision glasses could replace the cumbersome and bulky night-vision binoculars currently in use. PhD student Maria del Rocio Camacho-Morales said the team built the device on glass so that light can pass through, which was critical for optical displays.
Watch a video interview with the researchers on the ANU YouTube channel.
A breakthrough by an Australian collaboration of researchers could make infra-red technology easy-to-use and cheap, potentially saving millions of dollars in defence and other areas using sensing devices, and boosting applications of technology to a host of new areas, such as agriculture.
Infra-red devices are used for improved vision through fog and for night vision and for observations not possible with visible light; high-quality detectors cost approximately $100,000 (including the device at the University of Sydney) some require cooling to -200°C.
Now, research spearheaded by researchers at the University of Sydney has demonstrated a dramatic increase in the absorption efficiency of light in a layer of semiconductor that is only a few hundred atoms thick – to almost 99 percent light absorption from the current inefficient 7.7 percent.
The findings will be published overnight in the high-impact journal Optica.
Co-author from the University of Sydney’s School of Physics, Professor Martijn de Sterke, said the team discovered perfect thin film light absorbers could be created simply by etching grooves into them.