An advanced sensor developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., will be inducted into the U.S.
Space Foundation Hall of Fame on April 12 in recognition of
its potential uses in medicine, firefighting and industry, as
well as astronomy.

The Quantum Well Infrared Photodetector (QWIP) technology
has been licensed for various commercial applications,
including non-invasive detection of breast and skin cancers.
Physicians use it during brain surgery to visualize a tumor’s
perimeter. The QWIP camera’s ability to see through dust and
smoke has proven useful to firefighters and helicopter camera
crews by allowing them to see forest fire hot spots from the
air through heavy smoke. The technology also has many other
potential uses from search and rescue, spotting faulty welds
and blockages, to volcano observation.

“It is a great pleasure to see something we developed
being used for public benefit,” said Sarath Gunapala, co-
inventor and principal engineer of the sensor developed at
JPL, “especially in medical applications, such as the early
detection of cancer.”

The ability of the camera to see in the infrared has been
useful for NASA. Astronomers at Palomar Observatory have also
taken advantage of the ability to see in the infrared through
dust clouds and image deep into dusty star-forming regions
where visible sensors cannot penetrate.

The U.S. Space Foundation’s Space Technology Hall of Fame
honors individuals, organizations and companies who have taken
technologies originally designed for the space program and
later adapted them for commercial application on Earth. The
QWIP technology is to be inducted during the Foundation’s
National Space Symposium, on April 9 -12 in Colorado Springs,
Colo. Three other JPL technologies have made the Hall of
Fame: the Active Pixel Sensor in 1999 and, in 1994, Digital
Image Processing and an Excimer Laser Angioplasty System.

More information on QWIP is available at: . JPL is managed for NASA by
the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.