Waste sulphur to produce cheap infra-red devices
In a major breakthrough, scientists have found that waste sulphur can be transformed into cheap plastic lenses for infra-red devices, including night-vision goggles.
"We have, for the first time, a polymer material that can be used for quality thermal imaging - and that is a big deal. The industry has aspired this for decades," said Jeffrey Pyun whose lab at University of Arizona (UA) developed the plastic.
The team successfully took thermal images of a person through a piece of the new plastic.
By contrast, taking a picture taken through the plastic often used for ordinary lenses does not show a person's body heat.
"These lenses could be used for anything involving heat detection and infrared light, such as handheld cameras for home energy audits, night-vision goggles, perimeter surveillance systems and other remote-sensing applications," explained Robert A. Norwood, a professor of optical sciences at UA.
The lenses also could be used within detectors that sense gases such as carbon dioxide.
Some smart building technology already uses carbon dioxide detectors to adjust heating and cooling levels based on the number of occupants.
"In contrast to the materials currently used in infrared technology, the new plastic is inexpensive, lightweight and can be easily molded into a variety of shapes," Pyun added in a paper published online in the journal Advanced Materials.
"You can pop the lenses out of the mould once it is cooled. Processing could not be simpler, really," the researchers noted.
(Posted on 18-04-2014)