Portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that extends from the microwave range to the red end of the visible light range. Its wavelengths vary from about 0.7 to 1,000 micrometres. Most of the radiation emitted by a moderately heated surface is infrared, and it forms a continuous spectrum. Molecular excitation produces extensive infrared radiation but in a discrete spectrum of lines or bands. Infrared wavelengths are useful for night-vision equipment, heat-seeking missiles, molecular spectroscopy, and infrared astronomy, among other things. The trapping of infrared radiation by atmospheric gases is also the basis of the greenhouse effect.
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Infrared (IR) radiation is electromagnetic radiation whose wavelength is longer than that of visible light, but shorter than that of terahertz radiation and microwaves. The name means "below red" (from the Latin infra, "below"), red being the color of visible light with the longest wavelength. Infrared radiation has wavelengths between about 750 nm and 1 mm, spanning three orders of magnitude. Humans at normal body temperature can radiate at a wavelength of 10 micrometres.
Infrared imaging is used extensively for both military and civilian purposes. Military applications include target acquisition, surveillance, night vision, homing and tracking. Non-military uses include thermal efficiency analysis, remote temperature sensing, short-ranged wireless communication, spectroscopy, and weather forecasting. Infrared astronomy uses sensor-equipped telescopes to penetrate dusty regions of space, such as molecular clouds; detect cool objects such as planets, and to view highly red-shifted objects from the early days of the universe.
At the atomic level, infrared energy elicits vibrational modes in a molecule through a change in the dipole moment, making it a useful frequency range for study of these energy states. Infrared spectroscopy examines absorption and transmission of photons in the infrared energy range, based on their frequency and intensity.
The International Commission on Illumination (CIE) recommended the division of optical radiation into the following three bands:
A commonly used sub-division scheme is:
NIR and SWIR is sometimes called reflected infrared while MWIR and LWIR is sometimes referred to as thermal infrared. Due to the nature of the blackbody radiation curves, typical 'hot' objects, such as exhaust pipes, often appear brighter in the MW compared to the same object viewed in the LW.
Astronomers typically divide the infrared spectrum as follows:
These divisions are not precise and can vary depending on the publication. The three regions are used for observation of different temperature ranges, and hence different environments in space.
A third scheme divides up the band based on the response of various detectors:
These divisions are justified by the different human response to this radiation: near infrared is the region closest in wavelength to the radiation detectable by the human eye, mid and far infrared are progressively further from the visible regime. Other definitions follow different physical mechanisms (emission peaks, vs. bands, water absorption) and the newest follow technical reasons (The common silicon detectors are sensitive to about 1,050 nm, while InGaAs' sensitivity starts around 950 nm and ends between 1,700 and 2,600 nm, depending on the specific configuration). Unfortunately, international standards for these specifications are not currently available.
The boundary between visible and infrared light is not precisely defined. The human eye is markedly less sensitive to light above 700 nm wavelength, so shorter frequencies make insignificant contributions to scenes illuminated by common light sources. But particularly intense light (e.g., from lasers, or from bright daylight with the visible light removed by colored gels ) can be detected up to approximately 780 nm, and will be perceived as red light. The onset of infrared is defined (according to different standards) at various values typically between 700 nm and 800 nm.
|O band||Original||1260–1360 nm|
|E band||Extended||1360–1460 nm|
|S band||Short wavelength||1460–1530 nm|
|C band||Conventional||1530–1565 nm|
|L band||Long wavelength||1565–1625 nm|
|U band||Ultralong wavelength||1625–1675 nm|
The C-band is the dominant band for long-distance telecommunication networks. The S and L bands are based on less well established technology, and are not as widely deployed.
The concept of emissivity is important in understanding the infrared emissions of objects. This is a property of a surface which describes how its thermal emissions deviate from the ideal of a black body. To further explain, two objects at the same physical temperature will not 'appear' the same temperature in an infrared image if they have differing emissivities.
The use of infrared light and night vision devices should not be confused with thermal imaging which creates images based on differences in surface temperature by detecting infrared radiation (heat) that emanates from objects and their surrounding environment
Infrared radiation can be used to remotely determine the temperature of objects (if the emissivity is known). This is termed thermography, or in the case of very hot objects in the NIR or visible it is termed pyrometry. Thermography (thermal imaging) is mainly used in military and industrial applications but the technology is reaching the public market in the form of infrared cameras on cars due to the massively reduced production costs.
Thermographic cameras detect radiation in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum (roughly 900–14,000 nanometers or 0.9–14 µm) and produce images of that radiation. Since infrared radiation is emitted by all objects based on their temperatures, according to the black body radiation law, thermography makes it possible to "see" one's environment with or without visible illumination. The amount of radiation emitted by an object increases with temperature, therefore thermography allows one to see variations in temperature (hence the name).
Infrared heating is also becoming more popular in industrial manufacturing processes, e.g. curing of coatings, forming of plastics, annealing, plastic welding, print drying. In these applications, infrared heaters replace convection ovens and contact heating. Efficiency is achieved by matching the wavelength of the infrared heater to the absorption characteristics of the material.
Free space optical communication using infrared lasers can be a relatively inexpensive way to install a communications link in an urban area operating at up to 4 gigabit/s, compared to the cost of burying fiber optic cable.
Infrared lasers are used to provide the light for optical fiber communications systems. Infrared light with a wavelength around 1,330 nm (least dispersion) or 1,550 nm (best transmission) are the best choices for standard silica fibers.
IR data transmission of encoded audio versions of printed signs is being researched as an aid for visually impaired people through the RIAS (Remote Infrared Audible Signage) project.
Weather satellites equipped with scanning radiometers produce thermal or infrared images which can then enable a trained analyst to determine cloud heights and types, to calculate land and surface water temperatures, and to locate ocean surface features. The scanning is typically in the range 10.3-12.5 µm (IR4 and IR5 channels).
High, cold ice cloud such as Cirrus or Cumulonimbus show up bright white, lower warmer cloud such as Stratus or Stratocumulus show up as grey with intermediate clouds shaded accordingly. Hot land surfaces will show up as dark grey or black. One disadvantage of infrared imagery is that low cloud such as stratus or fog can be a similar temperature to the surrounding land or sea surface and does not show up. However, using the difference in brightness of the IR4 channel (10.3-11.5 µm) and the near-infrared channel (1.58-1.64 µm), low cloud can be distinguished, producing a fog satellite picture. The main advantage of infrared is that images can be produced at night, allowing a continuous sequence of weather to be studied.
These infrared pictures can depict ocean eddies or vortices and map currents such as the Gulf Stream which are valuable to the shipping industry. Fishermen and farmers are interested in knowing land and water temperatures to protect their crops against frost or increase their catch from the sea. Even El Niño phenomena can be spotted. Using color-digitized techniques, the gray shaded thermal images can be converted to color for easier identification of desired information.
A pyrgeometer is utilized in this field of research to perform continuous outdoor measurements. This is a broadband infrared radiometer with sensitivity for infrared radiation between approximately 4.5 µm and 50 µm.
Astronomers observe objects in the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum using optical components, including mirrors, lenses and solid state digital detectors. For this reason it is classified as part of optical astronomy. To form an image, the components of an infrared telescope need to be carefully shielded from heat sources, and the detectors are chilled using liquid helium. The sensitivity of Earth-based infrared telescopes is significantly limited by water vapor in the atmosphere, which absorbs a portion of the infrared radiation arriving from space outside of selected atmospheric windows. This limitation can be partially alleviated by placing the telescope observatory at a high altitude, or by carrying the telescope aloft with a balloon or an aircraft. Space telescopes do not suffer from this handicap, and so outer space is considered the ideal location for infrared astronomy.
The infrared portion of the spectrum has several useful benefits for astronomers. Cold, dark molecular clouds of gas and dust in our galaxy will glow with radiated heat as they are irradiated by imbedded stars. Infrared can also be used to detect protostars before they begin to emit visible light. Stars emit a smaller portion of their energy in the infrared spectrum, so nearby cool objects such as planets can be more readily detected. (In the visible light spectrum, the glare from the star will drown out the reflected light from a planet.)
Infrared light is also useful for observing the cores of active galaxies which are often cloaked in gas and dust. Distant galaxies with a high redshift will have the peak portion of their spectrum shifted toward longer wavelengths, so they are more readily observed in the infrared.
Infra-red (as art historians call them) reflectograms are taken of paintings to reveal underlying layers, in particular the underdrawing or outline drawn by the artist as a guide. This often uses carbon black which shows up well in reflectograms, so long as it has not also been used in the ground underlying the whole painting. Art historians are looking to see if the visible layers of paint differ from the under-drawing or layers in between - such alterations are called pentimenti when made by the original artist. This is very useful information in deciding whether a painting is the prime version by the original artist or a copy, and whether it has been altered by over-enthusiastic restoration work. Generally the more pentimenti, the more likely a painting is to be the prime version. It also gives useful insights into working practices.
Among many other changes in the Arnolfini Portrait of 1434 (right), his face was higher by about the height of his eye, hers was higher, and her eyes looked more to the front. Each of his feet was underdrawn in one position, painted in another, and then overpainted in a third. These alterations are seen in infra-red reflectograms.
Similar uses of infrared are made by historians on various types of objects, especially very old written documents such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Roman works in the Villa of the Papyri, and the Silk Road texts found in the Dunhuang Caves. Carbon black used in ink can show up extremely well.
Pitviper have a pair of infrared sensory pits on its head. There is uncertainty regarding the exact thermal sensitivity of this biological infrared detection system.
Other organisms that have thermoreceptive organs are pythons (family Pythonidae), some boas (family Boidae), the Common Vampire Bat (Desmodus rotundus), a variety of jewel beetles (Melanophila acuminata), darkly pigmented butterflies (Pachliopta aristolochiae and Troides rhadamantus plateni), and possibly blood-sucking bugs (Triatoma infestans).
Other important dates include:
"Far-Infrared Radiation in Use of Improving Patency of Arteriovenous Fistula, Decreasing Failure of Arteriovenous Fistula Maturation, and Preventing And/ Or Ameliorating Peripheral Artery Diseases" In
Nov 30, 2012; By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Health & Medicine Week -- A patent application by the inventors LIN, Chih-Ching (New...
"Coating Compositions That Transmit Infrared Radiation and Exhibit Color Stability and Related Coating Systems" in Patent Application Approval Process
Dec 27, 2012; By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Politics & Government Week -- A patent application by the inventors Hellring, Stuart D....