Cooled-down IR camera.
To see in other spectral ranges, particularly the infrared (IR), we need to take advantage of Wien's displacement law, which formulates an inverse relationship between emitted peak wavelength and blackbody temperature. If we were able to see in the IR we can discern objects in the dark, such as people or vehicles, which is desirable in civilian and military applications.
Using MEMS technology, researchers at Oak Ridge (Tenn.) National Laboratory have developed the Uncooled Micromechanical Infrared Camera (UMIR-CAM), a sensitive IR photon-detection and imaging device that operates at room temperature. The UMIR-CAM is based on the revolutionary idea that stress caused by the absorption of photons can be detected in a bimaterial micromechanical system. The system, a 256 x 256 array of bimetallic actuators, has a high sensitivity (detectivity > [10.sup.10] cm x [Hz.sup.1/2]/W), since it can detect bending due to differential stress in each actuator (microcantiliever) at subnanometer levels. Using a unique "self-compensating" design, the microcantiliver has a negligible response to ambient temperature changes.
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