Improving mid-infrared imaging and sensing

April 27, 2018

A new way of taking images in the mid-infrared part of the spectrum, developed by researchers at MIT and elsewhere, could enable a wide variety of applications, including thermal imaging, biomedical sensing, and free-space communication.

The mid-infrared (mid-IR) band of electromagnetic radiation is a particularly useful part of the spectrum; it can provide imaging in the dark, trace heat signatures, and provide sensitive detection of many biomolecular and chemical signals. But optical systems for this band of frequencies have been hard to make, and devices using them are highly specialized and expensive. Now, the researchers say they have found a highly efficient and mass-manufacturable approach to controlling and detecting these waves.

Scanning Electron Microscope image shows a few of the carefully designed shaped of the chalcogenide glass deposited on a clear substrate. The shapes, which the researchers call “meta-atoms,” determine how mid-infrared light is bent when passing through the material.

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