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Cars that brake in response to road hazards, without driver input. High tech cameras
that monitor environments inhospitable to humans. Drones that track and measure
pollution. Technology is helping us see what human eyes can’t.
Whether you’re surveying arctic ice formations or crops, whether you’re inspecting
food or pharmaceuticals, whether you’re maintaining industrial machinery or
examining insulation in homes, your eyes can only tell you so much.
The limits of the human eye
At SCHOTT, scientists are driving research into optical sensor technology, in
particular the development of hyperspectral and multi-spectral imaging systems,
which gather and interpret light from across the electromagnetic spectrum.
Making the invisible visible
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Uncovering ways to see more with every lens, to develop
systems that show detailed overlays of data can advance
everything from agriculture to travel to archaeology and
With the human eye confined to visible light, we’ve long used
imaging system to see further, to see more. But the optical
systems available until recently often limited what we were
able to see, opening up the ultraviolet world but closing off
the infrared, and vice-versa.
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These optical sensor technologies interpret and display this light in a way that
humans can understand. Hyperspectral systems render multiple data points into
each pixel in an image that is deeply layered and full of information. Mulit-spectral
systems gather multiple wavelenghth ranges through the same lens, reducing the
size and weight of the equipment.
Manufacturers can see process flaws like excess heat and monitor the condition of
machinery for cracks or damage.
In the pharmaceutical industry, optical sensor applications can detect whether
the components of medicines have been mixed properly, and whether individual
drugs or drug ingredients are counterfeit. In food, UV and infrared light can reveal
whether fish is fresh, and whether apples are bruised before sale.
In each of these applications, the glass optical components must be customized
to the task. The transmission, refractive index, and even the thermomechanical
properties of glass can all vary based on the application and where the work is done.
PHARMA & HEALTHCARE
WATER QUALITY MONITORING
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For example, night vision goggles might require high pass through of infrared or
visible light. A drone exploring the arctic will need different lens properties than one
uncovering ruins in a humid South American jungle.
— William James, Head of Materials Development NA
“Our latest IR glasses exhibit transparency from the visible
through the long-wave IR. In advanced IR sensors this
enables miniaturized as well as large scale infrared imaging
solutions – e.g. chalcogenide optics 200 mm in diameter.
Our R&D team in Duryea, PA is prepared to meet the
increased market demand with the next generation IR
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Your car is the next frontier. Autonomous driving requires an incredible amount
of sensor technology to detect other cars on the road, weather conditions, and to
navigate unexpected situations, like a deer in the road at night. Each action will rely
on infrared and near-infrared light to distinguish between hazards. But each feature
requires a different kind of optical system to gather the right data.
Beyond cars, advanced imaging systems are appearing in more and more consumer
applications. With the right choice of materials, we don’t have to accept the limits of
the human eye.
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What’s your next
Let’s improve visibility.
Research & Development
SCHOTT North America, Inc
Infrared chalcogenide glasses
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