A thin coating that could turn any pair of glasses into night-vision glasses using invisible infrared light is being developed by a team at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba. BGU is only one of two recipients of a major grant from the Israel National Nanotechnology Institute to create the coating.

The team is led by Prof. Gabby Sarusi, who has a long history at the defense oriented companies Elop/Elbit, will lead a group of researchers aiming to create the coating. Unlike cumbersome and expensive night vision systems, Sarusi and his team will develop a one-micronthick “smart layer” to coat any glasses.

Based on nan-photonics technologies, it would shift invisible light to visible rays and “would be like looking around at full moonlight,” says Sarusi. The glasses will weigh less than 50 gram and need onl a tiny 20-volt battery to function through the night. The device would have not only security applications, but also medical uses and others.

A new member of the university’s Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology (IKI), Sarusi says: “I knew what the layer architecture should be. I was looking for the best builder for each part of the layer.” To that end, he has put together an interdisciplinary team including Prof. Yuval Golan, head of IKI, Prof. Gabriel Lemkoff, head of BGU’s Department of Chemistry, and Prof. Michael Bendikov from the organic chemistry department at the Weizmann Institute of Science; Prof. Gil Markovitz, the head of the School of Chemistry at Tel Aviv University; Prof. Amir Saa'r and Prof. Uriel Levi, the former and the current head of the nanotechnology institute at the Hebrew University; and Prof. Efrat Lifshitz from the chemistry department of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

Sarusi spent 17 years at Elop, an electrooptics company that merged with Elbit Systems in 2000. At Elop, Sarusi was in charge of developing the next generation of thermal imaging night vision systems, airborne and spaceborne cameras for Israel’s aerial photography, Ofek satellites and hyperspectral airborne intelligence systems.

The five-year Focal Technological Area (FTA) proposal was recently approved by the International Nano- Science and Technology Advisory Board (INAB). In its report, the advisory board praised the quality and accomplishments of Sarusi and his team. The board wrote that they recommended the project because it was focused with a high likelihood of technological success and a large potential contribution to the economic potential of Israel.

“The device we will develop is a photons- starving device where every photon counts and the conversion efficiency from infrared photon to visible photon is the crucial issue,” says Sarusi.

“Unlike other groups in the world that are working in this field, we will implement the most advanced research in the field.”

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