Defense contractor Raytheon has selected LightPath Technologies, a producer of optical products, to help in the development of a low-cost manufacturing process for infrared (IR) optics.
LightPath, which has more than 25 years of experience in molding visible and infrared aspherical optics, was selected to support Raytheon Vision Systems’ $13.4 million contract with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for the Low Cost Thermal Imaging (LCTI) manufacturing program, which aims to develop a wafer scale manufacturing process that is to produce a camera-on-a chip.
“Making high-performance thermal images available to every vehicle, surveillance device and dismounted soldier will give them greater situational awareness in low light, adverse weather and obscured environments,” said Charlie Cartwright, Raytheon Network Centric Systems’ Advanced Programs vice president.
In addition, the “applications of infrared and thermal imaging technology have grown explosively over the last 10 years into various markets, including industrial inspection, automotive vision and security," said Jim Gaynor, LightPath’s president and CEO.
Cost is now a major barrier to further expansion into mission-critical defense and high-volume commercial applications, according to Gaynor. The lower-cost infrared optics that should result from our work on the LCTI project may not only enhance our warfighter’s capabilities but could open significant new market and application opportunities in thermal imaging for LightPath, Gaynor said.
“This contract allows us to continue our work to develop even lower cost materials and processes for infrared optics, which we believe will enable critical defense capabilities and expanded commercial applications as well,” he added.