New graphene-inspired night-vision tech is ‘beyond Predator’

5 Nov 20151 Share

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With the help of the wonder-material graphene, a team of researchers says that night-vision technology they are developing could greatly improve upon current models, especially those seen in the film ‘Predator’.

As those familiar with the 1988 film will know, Predator used a heat-sensor to find the body heat of its victims. Despite it being a science fiction film, Predator hews closely to the principles behind modern-day night-vision (NV) goggles.

Used particularly by the military and emergency services, NV technology today collects all the available light – including infrared – in the camera’s field of vision, and amplifies it so that the user can easily see what’s going on in the dark.

According to Phys.org, current NV technology systems – such as thermal imaging – are still quite expensive, and cumbersome for someone to wear, as many of them rely on the use of cryogenic filters to block out much of the ‘noise’, or background radiation, that surrounds us almost always.

If it’s warm, we can see it

That is why a team of researchers began looking at the possible uses of graphene for NV technology. It is often described as a wonder material for its unique properties as a strong, flexible and lightweight material.

Publishing their findings online, the team says that, by integrating graphene with silicon microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), they believe they are on track to create a much lighter and much more efficient NV system that would remove the need for a cryogenic filter and detect a person’s body heat at room temperature.

They go on to say that a single layer of graphene, only one atom thick, could even make the system entirely transparent and flexible, with the potential for simplifying manufacturing further to reduce cost.

I think it’s safe to say that, if you were being hunted with this new technology, it would probably be best to ‘get to the chopper’.

A cat seen through thermal imaging image via Shutterstock

Updated 06/11/2015 14.37pm

This article was amended to show that a single layer of graphene is only one atom thick, not multiple atoms.

Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com