Infrared filter allows everyday eyeglasses to double as night vision lenses

Australian scientists developed a thin, lightweight infrared filter for night vision in regular eyeglasses using metasurface up-conversion technology.

: Australian researchers have developed an ultra-thin infrared filter that can be applied to standard eyeglasses, enabling night vision. This innovation uses metasurface-based up-conversion technology, bypassing the need for traditional bulky systems. The results were published recently in Advanced Materials.

Australian researchers from TMOS, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Transformative Meta-Optical Systems, have innovated an infrared filter thinner than cling wrap and lighter than a gram. This filter can be placed on conventional eyeglasses to grant night vision capabilities, using metasurface-based up-conversion technology that allows infrared and visible light capture simultaneously.

Traditional night vision systems require cumbersome components like narrow bandgap semiconductors and cryogenic cooling, converting photons to electrons and back to photons. The new technology uses a resonant metasurface at room temperature to convert infrared photons directly into the visible light spectrum, eliminating the need for heavy cooling systems and producing lightweight, effective night vision lenses.

The latest metasurface is crafted from lithium niobate, which is fully transparent to visible light and supports high-efficiency photon beam spread over a wide area. Initial high-resolution imaging converted 1550 nm infrared light to 550 nm visible light; future research aims to broaden wavelength sensitivity and enhance image processing techniques, as highlighted by study author Rocio Camacho Morales.