Since polarimetry provides complex information that other techniques (imaging or spectroscopy) cannot give, the development of innovative polarisation sensitive detectors is crucial for many advanced detection systems. The polarisation state of the light is a probe of the molecular structure and surface texture of the materials involved in light emission and contains information on the properties of the environment where light is propagated through scattering or reflection processes.
As an example, state of the art imaging systems are unable to analyse the details of the shape of monochrome, highly reflective or transparent objects. However, when light passes through these objects, its polarisation changes depending on their shape and transmittance/reflectivity so that a polarisation sensitive imaging system can detect the details of the physical properties of these objects. In other fields, as in astronomy, the polarisation properties of the light contains important information on the physical properties of the sources, as magnetic fields, internal conditions and particle densities. The use of compact imaging detectors able to simultaneously detect the polarisation state of the light at each pixel will minimise and allow controlling the systematic errors of the polarimetric measures leading to substantial breakthrough in these detection systems.
The main objective of the project is to add polarimetric capability to imaging cameras in the NUV/optical, providing simultaneous measurements of the two different polarisation states of the light. This objective will be obtained by the development of an innovative coating based on nanostructured emissive materials sensitive to the polarisation of the incident light. These materials are based on organic conjugated polymers possessing both high extinction coefficients and emission efficiencies in the UV-visible region, combined with their intrinsic anisotropy originating from the 1D molecular structure. A double layer film of two organic systems aligned one orthogonal to the other will be coupled to image detectors so that the two polarisation components of the incoming light are converted into two different colours.
The two involved research Institutes (ISMAC-CNR and IASF-INAF) are highly experienced in the optical properties of oriented organic materials and in imaging detectors and have long-standing collaborations in the field of organic nanostructured wavelength shifters for UV detectors. A key part of the project is the production and test of films using different materials, in order to study not only the optimal combination for a specific application, but also exploring the possibility of optimising the coatings for different applications and evaluate the performances achievable. The low-production cost, low complexity/mass and power budget, along with the versatility of this kind of approach, may have breakthrough innovation potential for a number of industrial, medical and scientific applications.