Infrared sensing gets
even more high-tech
night vision through goggles that show glowing shapes moving in
a shadowy landscape has civilian as well as military applications.
Two U.Va. electrical engineering
professors, Travis Blalock and Michael Reed, have won a grant
of nearly $1.9 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency (DARPA) to study ways of making infrared cameras more sensitive.
"We will focus on improving fundamental sensing technology
rather than applications," Blalock said.
Reed: "We're trying to make them more sensitive, cheaper,
more compact and more highly integrated with electronic circuitry."
Infrared sensing -- also known as heat sensing or thermography
-- is already advanced. But the Blalock-Reed research team plans
to take it several steps further to create a wireless model of
what's called a "microbolometer imaging array" that
would eliminate problems such as loss of heat and sensitivity.
Their "flying carpet" model would be levitated by electric
field forces and have microelectronic parts small enough to fit
on the head of a pin. Measurements would be taken during brief,
touch-and-go contacts between the heat sensors and measurement
Along with the military uses in missile guidance systems and night
vision aids, the technology's civilian uses include: wildlife
observation and control, wildfire hot-spot detection, oil spill
location, search and rescue, predictive maintenance of industrial
machinery, circuit board analysis, crime fighting, navigational
aids, and human and veterinary medicine.
For details, see http://www.virginia.edu/topnews