University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Zhenqiang Ma has developed two new imaging processes that will allow for higher resolution and better accuracy for the use of night vision technology in military applications and more, based on Germanium nanotechnology.
One of the problems with existing night vision goggle is a limited field of view (FOV). In order to increase the FOV, a curved surface was needed. The problem is that the silicone used to make these devices is not flexible enough to perform in that manner. Professor Ma developed a flexible Germanium based membrane. This membrane also helps reduce the dark current (the electrical current that runs though these photosensitive materials) which will allow for a less grainy or distorted image.
His second development was to combine this flexible, visible light membrane with an infrared detection component. When visible light is reduced by cloud cover or other obstructions such as smoke or dust, IR detectors will still "see" through it giving the user the ability to get an all in one image of what they are viewing.
While night vision goggles are primarily used by the military, they can be of great help for police and other rescuers when in low light situation.