Advancing Infrared Optics: Commercial Demand for Night Vision Technology Emerges

Posted by The RPO Team on Jan 24, 2017 10:10:00 AM

Optical system advances drive possibilities in new markets.

Advances in IR optics have opened up new doors for night vision commercial applications. While military and defense continue to make up nearly 45% of the market, night vision is becoming a viable choice for:

  • Surveillance
  • Fire services
  • Oil & gas
  • Automotive
  • Chemical

In some industries, long range monitoring is price effective when long range, broader coverage replaces multiple standard security systems at much greater visibility, particularly in tough climates and harsh lighting conditions.

In automotive, night vision driver assistance systems can improve visibility by 4x beyond headlight range. Night vision devices are also in testing for non-invasive detection in medical and food and drug quality control. The applications have plentiful promise if price barriers are overcome.

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Rochester Precision Optics’ proprietary technique for molding IR optics can drive down the cost by an order of magnitude at high volumes while improving performance over traditional IR optical fabrication.

New materials like chalcogenides perform well over a range of temperatures and can be both single point diamond turned for rapid prototypes and molded at high volumes. Due to the rapid growth of the infrared industry and widespread use of germanium in IR systems, demand has driven up prices and limited supply. Molding with chalcogenide glass offers excellent part to part uniformity, with lower manufacturing and material costs. The glass also offers a low thermal change in refractive index (32.2 X 1O -6/ºC for IRG26), which is an important consideration in avoiding thermal defocusing.

Designs for hybrid systems that include both glass and plastic optics are another technique that can reduce both cost and weight. RPO recently redesigned a hybrid glass and plastic night vision eyepiece for a market leading night vision provider that reduces weight by 50% and retrofits to handheld or head-mounted night vision goggles. RPO regularly collaborates with manufacturers and distributors to design and fabricate lenses, assemblies and eyepieces.

With a proven track record in delivering hundreds of thousands of optical lenses and optical assemblies for commercial market leaders and IR optics providers for night vision defense programs, RPO is well positioned to help night vision companies develop and deliver commercial night vision systems.

For more on our work with night vision technology, learn about the RPO CNOD system:

RPO Optical Engineering Discovery Services


*[Credit: IndustryARC]

Topics: Night Vision Technology, Infrared, Lens Assemblies