Bio-Inspired Dynamically Tunable Polymer-Based Filters for Multi-Spectral Infrared Imaging
Final rept. 1 Oct 2008-31 Dec 2009
CALIFORNIA UNIV REGENTS SANTA BARBARA OFFICE OF RESEARCH
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The objective of this collaborative research undertaken by UCSB and Raytheon Vision Systems, Inc. was to translate the unique, enabling principles recently learned from UCSBs analyses of the molecular mechanisms driving dynamically tunable reflectance in cephalopod skin to the development of a high-gain, dynamically tunable, polymer-based IR filter. Based on a revolutionary but simple new bio-inspired design, our prototype devices are lightweight and silent they require low power and are manufacturable at low-cost. The filters we are developing are comprised of two lightweight polymers in a nanostructured film that synergistically interact in response to an applied electric field to change both their refractive index and thickness, thus providing an exponential change in wavelength transmission in response to small changes in voltage. In contrast, present mechanical systems for tuning in the IR are heavy, slow, power-hungry and costly. Even next generation MEMS-driven Fabry-Perot filters are mechanically vulnerable, expensive and bulky in comparison to the thin-film polymer system we are developing for direct deposition on the focal plane array. Results of this first years seedling effort, culminating in an electrically switchable, lightweight polymer-based shutter and aperture for IR detectors, are described in our publication Holt et al., 2010.