Call it Nitelite: The newest app for cell phones might be night vision.
A University of Florida engineering researcher has crafted a nickel-sized imaging device that uses organic light-emitting diode technology similar to that found in cell phone or laptop screens for night vision. But unlike night vision goggles, which are heavy and expensive, the device is paper-thin, light and inexpensive, making it a possible add-on to cell phone cameras, even eyeglasses, once it is enlarged.
“Really, this is a very inexpensive device,” said Franky So, a UF professor of materials science and engineering. “Incorporating it into a cell phone might not be a big deal.”
So is the lead author of a paper about the infrared-to-vision device that appeared in a recent issue of the journal Advanced Materials. Do Young Kim, a postdoctoral associate in materials science and engineering, co-authored the paper and collaborated with So on the project.
Standard night vision goggles use a photocathode to convert invisible infrared light photons into electrons. The electrons are accelerated under high voltage and driven into a phosphorous screen, producing greenish images of objects not visible to the eye in darkness. The process requires thousands of volts and a cathode ray tube-like vacuum tube made of thick glass. That is why the goggles tend to be bulky and heavy.