Debashis Chanda, a professor in UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center, recently received SONY Innovation Award for the year 2022. This is first such award to UCF.

The SONY Research Award program, which the honor is part of, is designed to foster international technological innovation.

The award from the multinational electronics corporation will fund the development of infrared night vision and thermal sensing camera technology for cellphones and consumer electronics.

The thermal sensing technology further can be used to inspect thermal signatures, such as faulty parts of windows or doors where heat is leaking, apart from defense and space exploration applications.

UCF is one of 18 institutions — each of which receives $100,000 — selected for the awards for this year, which included Princeton University; Stanford University; California Institute of Technology; University of California, Los Angeles; and University of Texas at Austin. Yearly funding renewal may also be awarded to these institutions.

Chanda and his team will work to design the camera based on one-atom thick graphene so that it requires minimum power to operate and can be easily integrated into consumer electronics products.

“Due to its unique band structures, graphene offers dynamic spectral tunability,” Chanda says. “This award underscores the potential of engineered monolayer graphene long wave infrared detectors operating at room temperature, offering high sensitivity as well as dynamic spectral tunability for spectroscopic imaging.”

Chanda is an expert in infrared imaging, including creating the world’s first energy saving plasmonic structural color paint, using nanoscale engineering to improve infrared detection and concealing objects from infrared vision.

The technology works by using a nanoscopic pattern on mono-layer graphene to maximize infrared photon absorption, allowing even weak signals to be detected. The nano pattern, along with the graphene’s superior electronic properties, increase the system’s efficiency and avoids the need for expensive and cumbersome cryogenic (very low temperature) cooling typically need for infrared imaging.

Chanda has joint appointments in UCF’s Department of NanoScience Technology Center, the Department of Physics and the College of Optics and Photonics. He received his doctorate in photonics from the University of Toronto and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before joining UCF in Fall 2012.