$ 4.4 million grant for the construction of a prototype of next-generation night vision technology

Photo by University Relations, University of Arkansas

From left to right, Greg Salamo, Shui-Qing “Fisher” Yu and Jin Hu, University of Arkansas.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Researchers at the University of Arkansas have received a $ 4.4 million grant from the US Office of Naval Research to develop the next generation of infrared sensors used in night vision technology.

The three U of A researchers – Professor of Electrical Engineering Shui-Qing “Fisher” Yu, Distinguished Professor Greg Salamo, and Jin Hu, Assistant Professor of Physics – will collaborate with the Navy Surface Warfare Research Center, Crane Division and Arktonics, a local business. Together, they will use the semiconductor silicon germanium tin to design and prototype a superior and less expensive infrared camera. The military uses infrared imaging technologies for night vision technology.

The grant will fund the purchase of specially designed equipment that will help the team develop the silicon germanium-tin infrared imaging sensor network. The team will then integrate this network with a complementary metal oxide semiconductor, known as CMOS, on the same chip. CMOS technology is used to manufacture integrated circuit chips for microprocessors, controllers, and other digital and analog circuits, including image sensors. The suit is more effective at harnessing ambient light, an essential part of night vision technology.

Current technologies rely on semiconductor alloys such as mercury cadmium telluride and other material-based photodetectors. These alloys have several limitations, including a complex and expensive manufacturing process, low production efficiency, and poor uniformity over large areas. These limitations negatively affect wide-range infrared visibility, especially in areas with poor environmental conditions, such as sandy or foggy environments. These technologies also cannot integrate an infrared camera and other necessary electronic components on the same chip, which increases costs and decreases reliability, efficiency and speed.

By harnessing light more efficiently, silicon germanium-tin on silicon substrates is potentially a better solution. Yu has been working with silicon germanium tin for over a decade. In 2016, he and his colleagues reported making a first-generation ‘optically pumped’ laser, which means the material was injected with light, similar to an injection of electric current. Yu was also the first to report an “electrically excited” germanium tin laser.

Using molecular beam epitaxy, Salamo has been developing semiconductor nanostructures for over 20 years. He is well known for his work on quantum wells, dots and wires. During this time, Hu developed and fabricated new quantum materials and studied their new quantum properties.

The researchers held a Zoom meeting on September 21 to kick off the project. The meeting was attended by US Representative Steve Womack, who helped secure research funding.

“I am extremely proud of the collaboration between the University of Arkansas and the Navy to develop next generation night vision sensor technology,” said Womack. “This world-class research will produce a prototype that will surpass current technology and increase military capabilities. It will also generate new high-tech economic opportunities for our region and state. Ingenuity opens doors to the future, and I will continue to support these efforts in Congress. “

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas’ flagship institution, the U of A offers internationally competitive education in over 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $ 2.2 billion to the Arkansas economy through teaching new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while providing training in professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation ranks the U of A among the top 3% of US colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. US News and World Report ranks the U of A among the best public universities in the country. Find out how the U of A is working to build a better world on Arkansas Research News.

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