The Electronic Materials Research Institute at Northeastern University signed a  three year contract with the US military, securing them a partner in the design of low cost infrared imaging devices.

The contract will enable the university team to focus on innovations in product design and use inspired research in the securities field. The Northeastern team, which is headed by Prof. Srinivas Sridhar and Asst. Prof. Swastik Kar, has been working on novel approaches toward synthesizing the nanomaterial and hope to design graphene-based bolometers, which can detect the heat generated by an object or person. The military, Sridhar said, may use the bolometers in night vision goggles or for thermal body imaging and may eventually incorporate the technology into smart phones.

Thinking of longer-term goals the team leader noted that the possibility of licensing and mass-producing the technology for low-cost infrared cameras was one of many possibilities.

“Providing a thermal camera to each soldier requires affordable and low SWaP (size, weight and power) cameras,” said Dhar, Program Manager at DARPA Microsystems Technology Office. “DARPA has a program to address both these attributes. Innovation is needed to increase the sensitivity of bolometers while maintaining these attributes. Nanostructured materials such as graphene may provide a low-cost and low-SWaP alternative.”

The mission of the eMRI is to synergize and catalyze research and education in materials for nano-, bio- and info-technologies, with a particular focus on nanomaterials for energy, medicine and electronic and photonic nanostructures.