Sunglasses that turn into night-vision goggles? We want a pair!
If currently only celebrities can pull off wearing sunglasses at night, we may soon all have good reason to wear shades in the dark. Researchers at Ben Gurion University are working on a material that would turn any glasses into night-vision goggles.
Night-vision goggles are widely used – and not only for military purposes. Rescuers, wild-life explorers and even hikers use them to see in the dark. However, most night vision devices have one thing in common – they’re extremely bulky.
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Professor Gabby Sarusi of Ben Gurion University will lead a group of researchers in a project expected to take five years, to create a thin coating that will turn invisible infrared light into visible light for night vision glasses. As opposed to other more cumbersome and expensive night vision systems, Sarusi and his team will develop a layer one micron thick that can be applied to any glasses.
“Easily applied on any glasses”
“We want to use a smart layer (based on nano-photonics technologies) to shift invisible light to visible. It would be like looking around at full moonlight,” says Sarusi. He explains that their device will make “every photon count” and use “organic light emitting diode (OLED) for electrical current to visible light conversion.”
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“Eventually,” Sarusi explains, “the emitted light from the OLED will be collimated to the observer’s eyes using a thin layer micro-collimator array. The overall thickness of such a layer will be just a few micrometers that can be applied easily on any glasses.”
High likelihood of success
Sarusi spent 17 years at an electro optics company and was in charge of developing the next generation of thermal imaging night vision systems. Sarusi also developed airborne and space-borne cameras for Israel’s aerial photography, Ofek satellites and hyperspectral airborne intelligence systems.
Sarusi’s team is one of only two recipients of a major grant from the Israel National Nanotechnology Initiative (INNI). The five year Focal Technological Area (FTA) proposal was recently approved by The International Nano-Science and Technology Advisory Board (INAB). In its report, the advisory board said it recommended the project because of its high likelihood of technological success and large potential contribution to the Israeli economy.
“I knew what the layer architecture should be. I was looking for the best builder for each part of the layer,” Sarusi says. To that end he has put together an interdisciplinary team including Professor Yuval Golan, head of IKI (University’s Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology), Professor Gabriel Lemcoff, head of BGU’s Department of Chemistry, Professor Michael Bendikov from the Organic Chemistry Department at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Professor Gil Markovich, the head of the School of Chemistry at Tel Aviv University, Professor Amir Sa’ar and Professor Uriel Levi, the former head and the current head of the Nanotechnology Institute at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem respectively and Professor Efrat Lifshitz from the Chemistry Department of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.