Renowned for his studies on the science of infrared detectors, Charles ‘Tom’ Elliott has applied this research to produce novel detectors giving civil and military thermal imager systems of world-beating performance. He has also procured and enabled their manufacture, commercial exploitation and profitable export. His invention of the SPRITE/TED (Tom Elliott Detector) device in 1974 has greatly simplified both detector fabrication and system electronics, as well as enhancing imager performance. SPRITE-based systems have proved outstandingly successful and are fitted to Tornado and Harrier aircraft in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Following from this, he has made a number of further seminal advances which, by obviating the need for cooling and mechanical scanning, should reduce system costs so that, as they become declassified, they can be used in cheap imagers for civil applications — for example, the study of novel civil engineering structures.