Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Using computational chemistry to produce cheaper infrared plastic lenses

30.10.2019

The new material could bring consumers affordable access to consumer-grade infrared detectors in products such as autonomous cars and in-home thermal imaging for security or fire protection

Five years ago, when University of Arizona materials scientist Jeffrey Pyun presented his first generation of orange-tinted plastic lens to optical scientist Robert Norwood, he responded, "This isn't the '60s. No one wants orange glasses, man."


Paper lead author and University of Arizona graduate student Tristan Klein demonstrates the lens's transparency to infrared light.

Credit: Mikayla Mace

Usage Restrictions: This visual may only be used in conjunction with reporting on or posting of this news release. Credit must be given as indicated.


A sample of the polymer material.

Credit: Mikayla Mace

Usage Restrictions: This visual may only be used in conjunction with reporting on or posting of this news release. Credit must be given as indicated.

In the years since, a team led by Puyn has refined the material and created the next generation of lenses. The plastic, a sulfur-based polymer forged from waste generated by refining fossil fuels, is incredibly useful for lenses, window and other devices requiring transmission of infrared light, or IR, which makes heat visible.

"IR imaging technology is already used extensively for military applications such as night vision and heat-seeking missiles," said Pyun, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry who leads the lab that developed the polymer. "But for consumers and the transportation sector, cost limits high-volume production of this technology."

The new lens material could make IR cameras and sensor devices more accessible to consumers, according to Norwood, a professor in the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences. Potential consumer applications include economical autonomous vehicles and in-home thermal imaging for security or fire protection.

The new polymers are stronger and more temperature resistant than the first-generation sulfur plastic developed in 2014 that was transparent to mid-IR wavelengths. The new lenses are transparent to a wider spectral window, extending into the long-wave IR, and are far less expensive than the current industry standard of metal-based lenses made of germanium, an expensive, heavy, rare and toxic material.

Because of germanium's many drawbacks, Tristan Kleine, a graduate student in Puyn's lab and first author on the paper, identified a sulfur-based plastic as an attractive alternative. However, the ability to make IR-transparent plastics is a tricky business.

The components that give rise to useful optical properties, such as sulfur-sulfur bonds, also compromise the strength and temperature resistance of the material. Moreover, the inclusion of additional organic molecules to give the material strength resulted in reduced transparency, since nearly all organic molecules absorb IR light, Kleine said.

To overcome the challenge, Kleine - in collaboration with chemistry graduate student Meghan Talbot and chemistry and biochemistry professor Dennis Lichtenberger - used computational simulations to design organic molecules that were not IR-absorbing and predicted transparency of candidate materials.

"It could have taken years to test these materials in the laboratory, but we were able to greatly accelerate new materials design using this method," Kleine said.

Germanium requires temperatures greater than 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit to melt and shape, but because of its chemical makeup, the sulfur polymer lenses can be shaped at a much lower temperature.

"A major advantage of these new sulfur-based plastics is the ability to readily process these materials at much lower temperatures than germanium into useful optical elements for cameras or sensors, while still maintaining good thermomechanical properties to prevent cracking or scratches," Pyun said. "This new material has just checked so many boxes we couldn't before."

"Its reliability is essentially equivalent to optical polymers that are routinely used for eyeglasses," Norwood added.

The team is partnering with Tech Launch Arizona to translate the research into a viable technology.

"Humans light up like a Christmas tree in IR," Pyun said. "So, as we think about the Internet of Things and human-machine interfaces, the use of IR sensors is going to be a really important way to detect human behavior and activity."

###

Researchers from the University of Delaware and Seoul National University also contributed to the paper, which was published today in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Media Contact

Mikayla Mace
mikaylamace@email.arizona.edu
520-621-1878

 @uarizona

uanews.arizona.edu 

Mikayla Mace | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/using-computational-chemistry-produce-cheaper-infrared-plastic-lenses
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ange.201910856

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Theoretical tubulanes inspire ultrahard polymers
14.11.2019 | Rice University

nachricht New spin directions in pyrite an encouraging sign for future spintronics
14.11.2019 | ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New opportunities in additive manufacturing presented

Fraunhofer IFAM Dresden demonstrates manufacturing of copper components

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden has succeeded in using Selective Electron Beam Melting (SEBM) to...

Im Focus: New Pitt research finds carbon nanotubes show a love/hate relationship with water

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are valuable for a wide variety of applications. Made of graphene sheets rolled into tubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, CNTs have an exceptional strength-to-mass ratio and excellent thermal and electrical properties. These features make them ideal for a range of applications, including supercapacitors, interconnects, adhesives, particle trapping and structural color.

New research reveals even more potential for CNTs: as a coating, they can both repel and hold water in place, a useful property for applications like printing,...

Im Focus: Magnets for the second dimension

If you've ever tried to put several really strong, small cube magnets right next to each other on a magnetic board, you'll know that you just can't do it. What happens is that the magnets always arrange themselves in a column sticking out vertically from the magnetic board. Moreover, it's almost impossible to join several rows of these magnets together to form a flat surface. That's because magnets are dipolar. Equal poles repel each other, with the north pole of one magnet always attaching itself to the south pole of another and vice versa. This explains why they form a column with all the magnets aligned the same way.

Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have managed to create magnetic building blocks in the shape of cubes that - for the first time ever - can be joined together to...

Im Focus: A new quantum data classification protocol brings us nearer to a future 'quantum internet'

The algorithm represents a first step in the automated learning of quantum information networks

Quantum-based communication and computation technologies promise unprecedented applications, such as unconditionally secure communications, ultra-precise...

Im Focus: Distorted Atoms

In two experiments performed at the free-electron laser FLASH in Hamburg a cooperation led by physicists from the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear physics (MPIK) demonstrated strongly-driven nonlinear interaction of ultrashort extreme-ultraviolet (XUV) laser pulses with atoms and ions. The powerful excitation of an electron pair in helium was found to compete with the ultrafast decay, which temporarily may even lead to population inversion. Resonant transitions in doubly charged neon ions were shifted in energy, and observed by XUV-XUV pump-probe transient absorption spectroscopy.

An international team led by physicists from the MPIK reports on new results for efficient two-electron excitations in helium driven by strong and ultrashort...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

First International Conference on Agrophotovoltaics in August 2020

15.11.2019 | Event News

Laser Symposium on Electromobility in Aachen: trends for the mobility revolution

15.11.2019 | Event News

High entropy alloys for hot turbines and tireless metal-forming presses

05.11.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New laser opens up large, underused region of the electromagnetic spectrum

15.11.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

NASA sending solar power generator developed at Ben-Gurion U to space station

15.11.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Typhoons and marine eutrophication are probably the missing source of organic nitrogen in ecosystems

15.11.2019 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>