Technology already exists that can improve our capability to see in limited light. However, these bulky night vision wearables usually use several lenses and require lots of power. Now, researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) have developed better night vision goggles powered by nanocrystals.

The human eye can perceive only the visible spectrum of light. ANU's nanocrystals can convert photons of infrared light, invisible rays of longer wavelengths, into visible light. The crystals do not need power sources, contrary to lenses previously used for the tech.

"With this technology, we don't need electricity anymore," said Mohsen Rahmani, co-researcher on the study. "We directly convert light to light, we just change the color and the frequency."

Credit: Stuart Hay, ANU

The semiconductive nanocrystals were fabricated on a piece of glass. A single nanoparticle is just 300 nanometers wide, and an array of them create what's called a metamaterial with superior capabilities.

"This is the first time anyone has been able to achieve this feat, because growing a nano semi-conductor on a transparent material is very difficult," said Maria del Rocio Camacho-Morales, a physicist from ANU.

Nanocrystals have all sorts of possible applications, including imaging cells and anti-counterfeiting measures. Night vision technology also has great potential, such as in security, military, or medical operations.

This research is detailed in Nano Letters.

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