Now, GE is taking inspiration from those nano structures to create advanced thermal detectors.
The butterfly wing nano structures are particularly good to intercept mid-wave infrared light and convert it into a full color palette. Basically it can amplify the difference in wavelength and make them visible.
This amplification would significantly improve the sensitivity of detectors.
GE researchers say that by mimicking these nano structures they have been able to take infrared detection to a new level of sensitivity.
Infrared detection is useful in many areas: in the medical field it is used to detect inflammation and several associated pathologies, in the environment can help detecting changes in vegetation, firefighters can use it to spot critical situations in a fire and so on.
It is just another field where nanotechnologies can contribute to the evolution of technology capabilities and yet another area where learning from nature is the way to go.
According to Dr. Radislav Potyrailo, principal scientist at GE Global Research who leads the GE bio-inspired photonics programs:
“The iridescence of Morpho butterflies has inspired our team for yet another technological opportunity. This time we see the potential to develop the next generation of thermal imaging sensors that deliver higher sensitivity and faster response times in a more simplified, cost-effective design. This new class of thermal imaging sensors promises significant improvements over existing detectors in their image quality, speed, sensitivity, size, power requirements, and cost. GE’s bio-inspired design also promises exciting new thermal imaging applications such as in advanced medical diagnostics to detect changes in a person’s health or in thermal vision goggles for the military to allow soldiers to see things during the dayand at night with much greater specificity and detail.”