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Night Vision Goggles and new MOD Technology

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Have you heard about the Optically Addressable Light Valve (OALV)? If you aren’t already familiar with the OALV it is likely that you will be hearing about it a lot more in the future.

MOD partners with Qioptiq to make technology commercially available. The OALV was developed by the MOD’s Defence and Technology Laboratory and they have just signed an agreement to license the technology behind it to Qioptiq the global photonics company. This means that we should start to see commercial applications based on this technology available quite soon.

Steve Rickard who is a business and product development manager at Qioptiq, said:

“The potential integration of MOD’s technology into our product portfolio presents an exciting development that we may not otherwise have achieved so readily.”

What is the OALV?

The OALV is basically the technology behind military night vision goggles or NVG’s. The OALV employs a layer of liquid crystal to filter out dazzle or glare while leaving the rest of the field of vision unaffected. This means that sensors can stay operational and not become dazzled as they would be if the glare was not removed from the light. This technology was developed by the MOD as a part of their response to the growing threat posed by lasers to both sensors and aircrews. Apart from lasers there are other possible sources of dazzle from white light including headlamps, and of course sunlight.

The UK military have had a long interest in working with light for military purposes. For many years night vision goggles and similar equipment has been available for defence purposes.

Night vision goggles (NVG’s) work by filtering light and collecting light from the lower part of the infra-red spectrum. This light is always present but it is usual not visible to our eyes as it is beyond the range that we can normally see. Night vision goggles amplify this light until it reaches a point where we can see the image clearly.

NVG’s play a vital role in the giving the military a tactical edge in combat situations. They allow military personnel to operate in what would otherwise be considered near total darkness. Night vision goggles help you to move through the night and to see what is going on around them even when they cannot be seen by those around you. The advantages of this should be obvious for anyone, but nvg’s are especially important for soldiers in a combat situation who need to be able to operate at all times even when they normally would not be able to see what is happening around them.