Infrared Detector Utilized in Ultrahigh Resolution Imaging

Tech ID: 24599 / UC Case 1999-039-0

Brief Description

An inexpensive infrared detector with a dramatically improved signal-to-noise ratio and greater sensitivity.


The use of semiconductor materials has brought a new means for the detection and use of infrared radiation in the mid- and far-infrared regions (M&FIR). Infrared detectors that can measure wavelengths in the M&FIR region can be useful in many fields, such as pollution detection and thermal imaging. Two ways that scientists currently measure M&FIR is through the development of semiconductor quantum well infrared detectors (QWIP) and through indium antimonide (InSb) bonded to a silicon chip. Both of these methods have low efficiency and are very costly.


Researchers at the University of California have developed an inexpensive infrared detector with a dramatically improved signal-to-noise ratio and greater sensitivity. The proposed device converts the signal from an IR or MIR source into a visible or near-visible signal or image.  The device does this by upconverting the energy of infrared photons in the 50 meV to 200 meV range (corresponding to wavelengths from 6 to 250 microns), yielding infrared photons of higher energy. These higher energy photons can be easily imaged with a Si CCD camera. An ultimate resolution of 50 nm can be achieved in the imaging mode using a near-field scanning optical microscope for reading the upconverted image, which also gives the device the ability to image live cells for long periods of time. 


  • A dramatically improved signal-to-noise ratio allowing for greater sensitivity
  • The potential to extend upconverted light into the visible range
  • Easy scalability for high spatial resolution imaging applications


  • Cell imaging
  • Pollution detection
  • Defense: rocket and reactor emissions evaluation           
  • Radio-astronomy

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 6,541,788 04/01/2003 1999-039


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  • Horiguchi, Naoto
  • Petroff, Pierre M.

Other Information


infrared, thermal imaging, cell imaging, microscope, indmicroscopy

Categorized As