A thin film that converts infrared light into visible light has been developed – a breakthrough which, researchers claim, could give cell phones, eyeglasses and car windshields cheap, lightweight night vision.To come up with the film, boffins adapted technology found in flat screen television sets, reports Discovery News. "This device can convert any infrared image into a visible image and would weigh no more than a pair of eyeglasses," said Franky So, a scientist at the University of Florida.
Infrared is used in night vision equipment when there is insufficient visible light to see. Night vision devices operate through a process involving the conversion of ambient light photons into electrons which are then amplified by a chemical and electrical process and then converted back into visible light.
Infrared light sources can be used to augment the available ambient light for conversion by night vision devices, increasing in-the-dark visibility without actually using a visible light source.
The device would need about 18 months to improve and be used for practical applications, such as car windshields, lightweight night vision eyeglasses and cell phones cameras.
"Ten years ago when people talked about putting cameras in cell phones, people asked why would you want to do that," said So. "Now you cannot find a cell phone without a camera. In the future, you might not be able to find a cell phone without night vision."
The discovery has been described in the journal Advanced Materials.