Two embodiments of a multilayered low energy optical power limiter device are disclosed which protect thermal sensors against laser threats in the far infrared spectral region. One limiter device has multiple layers in order from the incoming radiation side an antireflective coating layer, a window substrate layer, a layer of chalcogenide, a germanium substrate layer, a layer of vanadium dioxide (VO2), a window substrate, and an antireflective coating layer. As incoming radiation energy increases, the VO2 layer will heat up and change from an unswitched transmissive state to a switched reflective state. The excessive energy past the switched state is reflected back through the germanium and chalcogenide layer and is absorbed quickly therein so that these layers also heat up quickly and are switched almost simultaneously with the VO2 layer to provide high optical density at a low switching threshold temperature with high damage threshold. The second embodiment further adds a second VO2 layer between the input antireflective coating layer and window substrate layers to reflect high radiation energy immediately.
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