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DARPA Launches Program to Enable Quantum-Level Infrared Detection

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has unveiled a new program aimed at developing sensors capable of enabling quantum-level infrared detection at room temperature.

The Optomechanical Thermal Imaging program will run for five years and will consist of two phases to validate, characterize and benchmark the new class of room-temperature optomechanical IR detectors both in the mid-wave and long-wave regions, DARPA said Friday.

OpTIm seeks to improve IR sensing capabilities by combining the three main paradigms for sensor technology: optomechanical resonators, all-optical detectors and IR metamaterials.

Mukund Vengalattore, OpTIm program manager in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office, said the compact IR sensors have potential applications in night vision, battlefield surveillance and terrestrial and space imaging.

“It would also enable a host of commercial applications including infrared spectroscopy for non-invasive cancer diagnosis, highly accurate and immediate pathogen detection from a person’s breath or in the air, and pre-disease detection of threats to agriculture and foliage health,” Vengalattore added.

DARPA is soliciting research proposals for the first technical area of the OpTIm program.

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