A team at University of Florida has developed a new thin film technology that can convert infrared light into visible light. In layman terms, we can stop eating carrots to improve our night vision because it might soon be applied cheaply to our eye glasses, car windshields, even our cell phones, and it could be here in a little as 18 months.
Current night vision devices use huge amounts of electricity (thousands of volts) and heavy glass lenses that create a vacuum in order to work.
Adapted from flat screen television technology, the new film works with no vacuum and uses energy-efficient, organic LEDs. This keeps weight down, with a full scale device potentially weighing as little as 10 grams being only a few microns thick.
It could take as little as 18 months to upscale the the device for practical applications and it may revolutionize night vision goggles and other military applications, not to mention have wide-ranging domestic applications such as eye-glasses and cars.
Researchers also want to expand the technology to measure heat. Such a phone could be used to detect fever, heat loss from homes could be pin-pointed to reduce energy consumption, or a "smart" windshield could make pedestrians easier to spot. With the cheaper technology the possibilities are endless.
The research from the University of Florida was outlined recently in the journal Advanced Materials.