Dr Rocio Camacho Morales... “We have made the invisible visible." Photo: Jamie Kidston/ANU.

RESEARCHERS from ANU have revolutionised night-vision after developing new technology — a first-of-its-kind thin film — that allows people to see clearly in the dark. 

The film, described as ultra-compact in the publication "Advanced Photonics", could one day work on standard glasses.

“We have made the invisible visible,” lead researcher Dr Rocio Camacho Morales said.

“Our technology is able to transform infrared light, normally invisible to the human eye, and turn this into images people can clearly see – even at distance.

“We’ve made a very thin film, consisting of nanometre-scale crystals, hundreds of times thinner than a human hair, that can be directly applied to glasses and acts as a filter,  allowing you to see in the darkness of the night.”

The technology is extremely lightweight, cheap and easy to mass produce, making them accessible to everyday users, according to the researchers.

Currently, high-end infrared imaging tech requires cryogenic freezing to work and are costly to produce. This new tech works at room temperatures, they say.

ARC Centre for Excellence in Transformative Meta-Optical Systems (TMOS) director and physics professor, Dragomir Neshev, said the new tech used meta-surfaces, or thin films, to manipulate light in new ways.

“This is the first time anywhere in the world that infrared light has been successfully transformed into visible images in an ultra-thin screen,” Prof Neshev said.

“It’s a really exciting development and one that we know will change the landscape for night vision forever.”

The team of researchers say discovery will also make the work of police and security guards – who regularly employ night vision – easier and safer, reducing chronic neck injuries from currently bulk night-vision devices

The new tech has been developed by an international team of researchers from TMOS, ANU, Nottingham Trent University, UNSW and European partners.

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