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LightPath and RP Optical Lab developing thermal cameras for space

20 Jul 2021

Israel-Florida funded project is supported by UCF’s Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers.

LightPath Technologies, Orlando, FL, a manufacturer of optical and infrared components and assemblies, and RP Optical Lab, Petah Tikva, Israel are jointly developing novel thermal imaging cameras for space applications with optics based on LightPath's proprietary “BD6” material.

The project is supported by the University of Central Florida's Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL). The work is funded by Space Florida in conjunction with Israel's Innovation Authority (OCS) Ministry of Science, and as part of an innovative bi-lateral partnership between Florida and Israel.

As part of the project, BD6 infrared optical material will be further developed to comply with radiation requirements for space applications, making it space compatible. This project begins just as LightPath announces that it has resolved the BD6 coating yield problem.

‘Growth in demand’

LightPath's proprietary chalcogenide material, Black Diamond, marketed under the BD6 brand, is a replacement for germanium optics. The firm says its “superior characteristics” include it containing no rare earths, being lighter weight and demonstrating a wider thermal operating range [than germanium].

Sam Rubin, LightPath’s CEO, commented, “LightPath has been providing optical components for use in space for many years. Our components are currently used in orbiting satellites, the Mars Rover and have been on multiple outer space missions.

“In recent years, we have been witnessing an exponential growth in the launch of space payloads, with more than 1,300 nano satellites having been launched in the first six months of this year.

“LightPath is seeing growth in demand for optics to be used in such space applications, for imaging, analysis and optical communication between satellites. Optimizing our proprietary BD6 infrared material is a logical step in continuing to provide the space industry with qualified and suitable optics.”

Ran Carmeli, CEO at RP Optical Lab, said, “We are pleased that Space Florida and Israel's Innovation Authority have teamed up to promote this type of international cooperation by selecting our project to provide this critical financial support.

“The award funds will help to significantly compress the development plan for our new broadband satellite imaging system while making important technical collaboration with LightPath Technologies more seamless.”

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