A Novel Near-Infrared Camera System for Breakthroughs in Astrophysics and Beyond

Project: Research project

Project Details


Our Northwestern University (NU) team proposes to develop a completely new near-infrared camera with far better sensitivity than existing detector technologies. With W.M. Keck Foundation Science and Engineering program support, we will apply our proprietary bio-inspired photon detector to develop a camera with “electron injectors” 10 times smaller than currently exist. These nano-rods will enable detection of single photons at frame-rates above 1000 per second (1 kHz) with over 80% efficiency and negligible noise. Though its development poses major technical challenges, the resulting camera promises to revolutionize imaging across many scientific and technological applications. To demonstrate its capabilities, we will first apply the camera to the task of directly imaging exoplanets, starting with tests in the laboratory and moving on to field tests on large telescopes in Hawaii. Developing this technology will lead to a revolutionary near infrared (NIR) camera with significant impacts extending beyond its use in telescopes to medical imaging (e.g., deep tissue optical coherence tomography), 3D imaging (e.g., for self-driving vehicles), and photon-number resolving (e.g., for scalable quantum computing).
Effective start/end date7/1/156/30/20


  • W. M. Keck Foundation (Letter 6/12/15)


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