Scientists Develop Night Vision Contact Lens

Night Vision lensTroops might be able to replace those heavy night vision goggles strapped to their helmets and replace them with contact lenses.

The University of Michigan has developed a prototype contact lens that enhances night vision by placing a thin strip of graphene between layers of glass. The graphene — a form of carbon — reacts to photons, which makes dark images look brighter.

The development of the lens still has quite a ways to go before soldiers can scrap those heavy goggles. Right now the graphene only absorbs 2.3 percent of the light. Those percentages have to rise before true night vision can be achieved.

Ted Norris and Zhaohui Zhong of Michigan’s College of Engineering are the ones who have developed the prototype.

This technology is not limited to a contact lens. The developers said the graphene could be incorporated into windshields and amplify night vision while driving.

According to reports, the U.S. Army has already shown interest in the technology.



18 Comments on "Scientists Develop Night Vision Contact Lens"

  1. Pity humans don't have a tapetum lucidum; then we could see as well as cats (which still isn't great enough to fly helicopters at night).

    Edit: Some old data on graphene photomultipliers (but not in contact lens form)

  2. Just a question. Is a contact lens the only option for using this technology? Speaking as someone who has worn contacts, it seems just about any field environment is not a real good place for them. Especially if they cannot be cleaned regularly or replaced constantly. And how about adding in optical corrections for those needing it? Modified goggles would seem the better option.

  3. Stephen Russell | March 28, 2014 at 7:59 pm |

    Great for Intelligence IE undercover work, 007 use.
    But cant see in the Field IE Spec Ops IE jungle, mtns.
    Fine for formal dress events at embassies etc alone,.
    & concealed carry weapon on person

  4. What happens when the floodlights come on? You would need to be able to throttle the gain of these contact lenses. How would that work?

  5. That's the first thing I thought of when I read this article. The first generation night scopes suffered badly from flaring. Seems like these lenses would be worse.

  6. M. Speight, PhD | March 29, 2014 at 10:25 am |

    In 1984 I worked for a law firm in Santa Barbara CA doing computer input as a part-time student job. A Physicist at UCSB invented these type of lens at that time and I wrote up the Patent application for the man’s attorney. Those lens made seeing in the dark a thing of the past, they were amazing. I asked the attorney about them and he said the public would never seem them because the US Government has first rights to all patents. The lenses most likely ended up on spy satellites and we have never enjoyed car windshields made from them or eye glasses to help those with night blindness. We can only hope that these lenses will be made public, and that our men and women in the military will no longer have to wear extremely uncomfortable gear.

  7. I don't get it.
    light might reach the "contact lens" from every direction.
    In order to work, the multiplied light has to exit at the same direction.
    in other words- where are the Objective lens and the eyepiece? how can they be squeezed into a film?!
    looks to me that the so-called "Contact Lens" only replaces the magnification tube in the NVG.
    that's great, but the final product would be "smaller NVG", not a "contact lens".

  8. Google Glass.

  9. Yeah, contacts wouldn’t be the best use…. especially if someone suddenly turned on the lights. Windshields are better. For personal use Google glass should pick it up.

  10. If they give me eyes like Jordie LaForge(after the visor) or Riddic, I might have to get me a set of them!

  11. Sign me up for a set.

  12. markgubrud490204058 | March 31, 2014 at 9:42 pm |

    Folks, the photo shows the Google lens, a glucose sensor for diabetics.

    The research reported here shows that graphene can be an effective uncooled IR detector. It could be used to make a focal plane array. The "contact lens" would require an array of micro-cameras with such FPAs and a micro-projector into the eye. That's a pure fantasy at this point.

    More at

  13. Domingo Aguilar | April 1, 2014 at 8:45 am |

    This is great, now I just wish someone could invent something that can help me see through my left eye. I have a hole through the middle of the retina, and my doctors tell me that there is nothing out there that could possibly help me see through the eye. I lost my vision from the eye while on active duty with the Military, and the VA doctors keep telling me that there is nothing that they can do for me, and that I just have to live with it. Easier said than done Right? I just want to be able to see through my eye. I suffer a lot of anxiety because of it.

  14. It's such a great achievement by Scientists they develop night vision contact lenses.Great !

  15. add some collard changing lenses or head up display and adjustable zoom to see enmy at extream range and internet hi speed chip.and look out compition ,iron man,f-35,kh-xx satlite or tellscopes.

  16. Can I be in the testing of the night vision contacts. Been very interested in this I have had the same idea on this. And very interested in be in the testing of it. Please let me know if I can be part of it.

  17. Martin VanBuren | January 5, 2015 at 11:16 am |

    The drawback to this approach is the lack of ability to control gain, so any flashes of light will be a problem. Current NVIS tubes have the same shortcoming, but at least they have gain control; Contact lens's don't. It would be better to apply such a tedchnology to prescription-like glasses, so at least the operator can keep them clean, and remove them if they encounter excessive brighter lights, such as in combat, headlights, entering an urban area, etc.

  18. I have a doubt that is a lens can be made such that they can glow at dark…like cats..???

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