Science & technology
Contact lenses with night vision could be on the way
Publish Date: Apr 07, 2014
Contact lenses with night vision could be on the way
Contact lenses seem to be a consistent draw for technologists looking to augment human ability.
  • mail
  • img
newvision

NIGHT vision technology has been around for a while, but it's only really used by professionals (or professional creeps) due to its prohibitive size.

But what if night vision was something you could fit into a pair of contact lenses? You could keep a pair in your bag to slip in if you were going to be walking home alone in the dark, or even use them to take a night-time jaunt through a forest without spooking all the animals.

All this and more could be possible in the future thanks to a new development by researchers in the US using graphene lenses to sense “the full infrared spectrum” plus visible and ultraviolet light.

"We can make the entire design super-thin," said Zhaohui  Zhong, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Michigan. "It can be stacked on a contact lens or integrated with a cell phone."

Current night vision technology needs bulky cooling equipment to stop the detectors getting confused by their own heat radiation, but the graphene-based models can do the same job using just a few layers of the atom-thick material.

The most effective night vision technology works by capturing the infrared portion of the light spectrum – this is the part that is emitted as heat by objects, instead of reflected as light.

Zhong suggests that the infrared-capturing graphene lenses could therefore be used for more than just night vision. The technology could help doctors monitor blood flow without having to move a patient or subject them to any scans, or be used by art historians to examine layers of paint underneath the surface. It’s not quite X-ray vision but it’s pretty damn close.

Previous attempts to use graphene in this way have suffered from the material’s insensitivity towards parts of the light spectrum. The team from Michigan’s breakthrough was to create a sandwich of layers, with an insulating barrier placed between two slices of graphene and an electrical current sent through the bottom part.

When the infrared light hits the top layer of graphene it dislodges electrons as normal (this is, in effect, the signal that gets ‘seen’ by the eye) a process that is then amplified by the electrical current. And hey presto (or some other, more scientific, phrase) you get night vision.

“Our work pioneered a new way to detect light,” said Zhong. “We envision that people will be able to adopt this same mechanism in other material and device platforms.”

Contact lenses seem to be a consistent draw for technologists looking to augment human ability – most likely due to their inconspicuous nature – and previous efforts in this area have included Google’s prototype that monitors blood sugar, and a contact lens that has optical zoom.

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Apple profit hits record on
Apple's quarterly profit rocketed to a corporate record $18 billion at the end of last year on booming sales of big-screen iPhone s, especially in China....
How Microsoft Windows Azure can save your start-up time
You may have heard of Microsoft Azure, spoken about in IT circles with words such as SQL, .Net, and software-as-a-service (SaaS)....
Twitter woos users with group chat and video features
Twitter on Tuesday began rolling out new group chat and video features as it worked to ramp up use of the one-to-many messaging service....
Facebook, Instagram suffer outage but deny hacker attack
Facebook, the world's most popular social network, and its Instagram photo site were interrupted temporarily Tuesday, provoking panic, rumours of a hack, and jokes of how more than one billion users were struggling to cope....
NFL kicks off YouTube global game channel
The US National Football League on Monday kicked off a YouTube channel for games highlights, recaps and more online to viewers worldwide....
Microsoft profit dips as revenue rises
Microsoft on Monday reported that its quarterly profit dipped but revenue increased in a sign that it is adapting to lifestyles centered on mobile devices and cloud services....
Is gambling the cause of poverty amomg youth?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter