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Dstl Advancing Infrared Detection Technologies

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is collaborating with industry and academic partners to develop an infrared detector technology that holds promise for both commercial and security applications.

The new design of infrared detectors, which currently operate in the 2-3 micron band, will support stand-off detection of explosives and chemical agents.

Amethyst Research (UK), a small company based in Glasgow, was successfully funded under a call for proposals by Dstl’s Centre for Defence Enterprise, which funds research into novel, high-risk, high-potential benefit innovations. Dstl then introduced Amethyst to Selex ES, a Finmeccanica company and manufacturer of high performance thermal imagers. The companies developed a plan to exploit

Amethyst’s proprietary detector technology and Selex’s expertise in camera read-out circuitry, allowing a rapid benchmark of the new technology against current state of the art technology.

Within four months, the programme demonstrated significant advantages over current products, and a credible supply chain for its manufacture and distribution was established within the UK.

“This program has been vital to allowing us to effectively develop this platform technology, establish key partnerships and stress test the UK supply chain. Dstl has been extremely agile and strategic to work with. This has allowed us as to move quickly and position ourselves optimally for commercial development of this vitally important technology,” said Terry Golding, Amethyst’s Chief Executive Officer.

Amethyst is now partnering with Lancaster University, CST in Scotland and IQE in Wales to consider how to take the novel detector technology to the next level of refinement and production, with a view ultimately of commercial exploitation that will support defence requirements.

The Dstl Centre for Defence Enterprise is currently running another competition for funding on the theme of novel electro-optic and infrared technology. Up to £600k is available for proof-of-concept research projects. Bids must be submitted via the CDE Portal by May 8, 2014.

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