Next-generation infrared detectors

Assistant Professor Nav Nidhi Rajput received a grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research to develop sensors and imaging architectures that could be used in defense applications, weather surveillance, and search and rescue.
nav nidhi rajput with her students in the lab
Assistant Professor Nav Nidhi Rajput with graduate students Matthew Bliss and Rasha Atwi. Photo: Alonso Nichols/Tufts Photo.

The technology that powers radar, night-vision goggles, and other tools used for maintaining a visual watch have gone largely unchanged since the 1940s. With innovation in mind, Assistant Professor Nav Nidhi Rajput – in collaboration with colleagues at New York University - is developing novel sensors and imaging architectures that could provide high-performance surveillance at affordable costs and in durable form. The need is great, particularly for the U.S. Navy’s Situational Awareness System and next generation of hovercraft, which operate day and night through low-visibility environments involving high humidity, sea spray, fog, smoke, haze, and more.

With the support of a $500,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Rajput and her colleagues seek to develop mid-wave and short-wave infrared detectors and imagers based on colloidal quantum dots (CQDs). Researchers hope the dots will compare favorably – in size, weight, power, and cost – to the mercury cadmium telluride detectors that are currently in wide use. The intraband absorbing silver selenide CQDs proposed by Rajput present a more environmentally friendly, non-toxic possibility for a photodetector material.

The project could result in imaging technology that could be used in weather surveillance applications, search and rescue operations run by first responders, and defense applications by the U.S. Navy, Army, and Air Force.