Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cost-effective production of infrared lenses

01.08.2012
If visibility is poor, thermal cameras can warn drivers of people or animals on the road. Yet such devices have been very expensive – until now. An important step has been taken to manufacture them more cheaply. A new process will make the infrared lenses – a component of such cameras – up to 70 percent cheaper.

Rain pelts down on the roof of the car; it is difficult to make out anything in the pitch dark. Suddenly, a deer runs out of the forest and onto the road, but the driver cannot respond in time.


Above: Thermal image, taken with pressed lenses in a test camera. Below: Pressed lenses made ofchalcogenide glass.
© Fraunhofer IWM

When it comes to such dangerous situations, micro-bolometers constitute one way of “extending” the human eye and defusing such dangerous situations. They detect infrared rays – in other words, the heat emitted by a living creature – and in case of danger, warn the driver through an acoustic signal or a warning light. At about 2,000 euros, these devices are still quite expensive and are only being used in luxury-class vehicles.

Production costs drop by over 70 percent

Part for part, these devices should be getting more affordable. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg are working on the infrared lenses that are in the cameras. “We have developed a production process for lenses that enables us to lower the costs of these components by more than 70 percent. Thus the prize for the micro-bolometer could be reduced,” says Dr. Helen Müller, scientist at IWM. Normally, the lenses are made out of crystalline materials like germanium, zinc selenide or zinc sulfide.

The problem is that these materials are very expensive and can only be processed mechanically – it takes grinding, polishing or diamond turning to shape them into the correctly. Obviously this involves high processing costs. “Instead of crystalline materials, we use the amorphous chalcogenide glass. Its softening temperature – that is, the temperature at which it can be formed – is low. Therefore, we can form it using non-isothermic hot stamping,” says Müller.

This process is similar to making waffles on a waffle iron. The researchers place the chalcogenide glass between two pressing tools which determine the form of the required lenses. Then, it is heated and formed between both pressing tools – the “waffle iron” is clamped together. After a few minutes, the glass is cooled again to below the softening temperature and removed. And thus, the lens is already perfect. In contrast to conventionally processed optics, it no longer has to be further refined.

The lenses manufactured this way exhibit the same excellent optical imaging quality as those that are polished. To ensure that no glass remains attached to the tools, their surface is coated with anti-adhesive, non-stick coatings, similar to the Teflon coating on a waffle iron. The scientists now want to further refine the process towards cost-effective mass production.

The applications for micro-bolometers – and thus for cost-effective lenses – are not limited to the automotive sector. Imagine, for example, these devices assisting older people in their homes, If the senior were to fall, the bolometer registers this event and sends an alarm to relatives or neighbors through an optical or acoustic signal. In production halls, bolometers can oversee and monitor the production processes of various products, to ensure the necessary temperatures are maintained and warn employees who are spending time in danger zones. In residential buildings, the devices could detect energy leaks, such as through unsealed windows or poorly insulated walls.

Dr. Helen Müller | Fraunhofer Research News
Further information:
http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2012/august/cost-effective-production-of-infrared-lenses.html

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Less is more to produce top-notch 2D materials
20.11.2017 | The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

nachricht The stacked colour sensor
16.11.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Antarctic landscape insights keep ice loss forecasts on the radar

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Filling the gap: High-latitude volcanic eruptions also have global impact

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Water world

20.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>