Infrared
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Infrared (IR), sometimes called infrared light, is
electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through ...
(EMR) with
wavelength In physics, the wavelength is the spatial period of a periodic wave—the distance over which the wave's shape repeats. It is the distance between consecutive corresponding points of the same phase (waves), phase on the wave, such as two adjac ...

wavelength
s longer than those of
visible light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of frequencies (the spectrum A spectrum (plural ''spectra'' or ''spectrums'') is a condit ...

visible light
. It is therefore invisible to the human eye. IR is generally understood to encompass wavelengths from around 1 
millimeter The millimetre ( international spelling; SI unit symbol mm) or millimeter ( American spelling) is a unit Unit may refer to: Arts and entertainment * UNIT, a fictional military organization in the science fiction television series ''Doctor Who'' ...
(300 
GHz The hertz (symbol: Hz) is the derived unit of frequency Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency, which emphasizes the contrast to spatial frequency and an ...
) to the nominal
red Red is the color at the long wavelength end of the visible spectrum Laser beams with visible spectrum The visible spectrum is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visual perception, visible to the human eye. Electromagnetic ...

red
edge of the
visible spectrum Laser beams with visible spectrum The visible spectrum is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visual perception, visible to the human eye. Electromagnetic radiation in this range of wavelengths is called visible light or simply ...
, around 700 
nanometer The nanometre (international spelling as used by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures; SI symbol: nm) or nanometer (American and British English spelling differences#-re, -er, American spelling) is a units of measurement, unit of leng ...
s (430  THz) (although the longer IR wavelengths are often designated rather as
terahertz radiation Terahertz radiation – also known as submillimeter radiation, terahertz waves, tremendously high frequency (THF), T-rays, T-waves, T-light, T-lux or THz – consists of electromagnetic wave Electromagnetism is a branch of physic ...
).
Black-body radiation ) of black-body radiation scales inversely with the temperature of the black body; the locus of such colors, shown here in CIE 1931 ''x,y'' space, is known as the Planckian locus. Black-body radiation is the thermal radiation, thermal electro ...
from objects near room temperature is almost all at infrared wavelengths. As a form of electromagnetic radiation, IR propagates
energy In physics, energy is the physical quantity, quantitative physical property, property that must be #Energy transfer, transferred to a physical body, body or physical system to perform Work (thermodynamics), work on the body, or to heat it. En ...

energy
and
momentum In Newtonian mechanics, linear momentum, translational momentum, or simply momentum is the product of the mass Mass is both a property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs to or w ...

momentum
, with properties corresponding to both those of a
wave In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. " ...

wave
and of a
particle In the Outline of physical science, physical sciences, a particle (or corpuscule in older texts) is a small wikt:local, localized physical body, object to which can be ascribed several physical property, physical or chemical , chemical properties ...
, the
photon The photon ( el, φῶς, phōs, light) is a type of elementary particle In particle physics, an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a subatomic particle that is not composed of other particles. Particles currently thought to be eleme ...

photon
. Infrared radiation was discovered in 1800 by astronomer Sir
William Herschel Frederick William Herschel (; german: Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel; 15 November 1738 – 25 August 1822) was a German-born British astronomer and composer of music. He frequently collaborated with his younger sister and fellow astronomer Ca ...

William Herschel
, who discovered a type of invisible radiation in the spectrum lower in energy than red light, by means of its effect on a
thermometer (mercury-in-glass thermometer) for measurement of room temperature. A thermometer is a device that temperature measurement, measures temperature or a temperature gradient A temperature gradient is a physical quantity that describes in which dir ...

thermometer
. Slightly more than half of the energy from the
Sun The Sun is the star A star is an astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma (physics), plasma held together by its own gravity. The List of nearest stars and brown dwarfs, nearest star to Earth is the Sun. Many othe ...

Sun
was eventually found, through Herschel's studies, to arrive on
Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% is Water distribution on Earth, covered wit ...

Earth
in the form of infrared. The balance between absorbed and emitted infrared radiation has an important effect on Earth's
climate Climate is the long-term average of weather, typically averaged over a period of 30 years. More rigorously, it is the mean and variability of meteorological variables over a time spanning from months to millions of years. Some of the meteorologi ...

climate
. Infrared radiation is emitted or absorbed by
molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five carbon rings. A molecule is an electrically neutral group of two or more atoms held together by chemical bo ...

molecule
s when changing
rotational-vibrational
rotational-vibrational
movements. It excites
vibration Vibration is a mechanical phenomenon whereby oscillation Oscillation is the repetitive variation, typically in time, of some measure about a central value (often a point of equilibrium) or between two or more different states. The term '' vib ...

vibration
al modes in a
molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five carbon rings. A molecule is an electrically neutral group of two or more atoms held together by chemical bo ...

molecule
through a change in the
dipole momentDipole moment may refer to: *Electric dipole moment, the measure of the electrical polarity of a system of charges **Transition dipole moment, the electrical dipole moment in quantum mechanics **Molecular dipole moment, the electric dipole moment o ...
, making it a useful frequency range for study of these energy states for molecules of the proper symmetry.
Infrared spectroscopy Infrared spectroscopy (IR spectroscopy or vibrational spectroscopy) is the measurement of the interaction of infrared radiation with matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space ...

Infrared spectroscopy
examines absorption and transmission of
photon The photon ( el, φῶς, phōs, light) is a type of elementary particle In particle physics, an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a subatomic particle that is not composed of other particles. Particles currently thought to be eleme ...

photon
s in the infrared range. Infrared radiation is used in industrial, scientific, military, commercial, and medical applications. Night-vision devices using active near-infrared illumination allow people or animals to be observed without the observer being detected.
Infrared astronomy Infrared astronomy is the branch of astronomy Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and celest ...
uses sensor-equipped
telescope A telescope is an optical instrument An optical instrument (or "optic" for short) is a device that processes light waves (or photon The photon (Greek: φῶς, phōs, light) is a type of elementary particle. It is the quantum of the ele ...

telescope
s to penetrate dusty regions of space such as
molecular cloud A molecular cloud, sometimes called a stellar nursery (if star formation Star formation is the process by which dense regions within molecular clouds in interstellar space, sometimes referred to as "stellar nurseries" or "star-forming regions", Je ...
s, to detect objects such as
planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibrium, rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and ...

planet
s, and to view highly
red-shifted
red-shifted
objects from the early days of the
universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological description of the development ...

universe
. Infrared thermal-imaging cameras are used to detect heat loss in insulated systems, to observe changing blood flow in the skin, and to detect the overheating of electrical components. Military and civilian applications include
target acquisition Target acquisition is the detection and identification of the location of a target in sufficient detail to permit the effective employment of lethal and non-lethal means. The term is used for a broad area of applications. A "target" here is an ent ...
,
surveillance Surveillance is the monitoring of behavior, many activities, or information for the purpose of information gathering, influencing, managing or directing. This can include observation from a distance by means of electronic equipment, such as cl ...

surveillance
,
night vision soldiers pictured during the 2003 Iraq War seen through an image intensifier. Night vision is the ability to see in low-light conditions, either naturally with scotopic vision or through a night-vision device. Night vision requires both sufficie ...

night vision
, homing, and tracking. Humans at normal body temperature radiate chiefly at wavelengths around 10 μm (micrometers). Non-military uses include
thermal efficiency In thermodynamics, the thermal efficiency (\eta_) is a Dimensionless quantity, dimensionless performance measure of a device that uses thermal energy, such as an internal combustion engine, steam turbine, steam engine, boiler, Furnace (house heatin ...
analysis, environmental monitoring, industrial facility inspections, detection of
grow-ops This article presents common techniques and facts regarding the cultivation of cannabis, primarily for the production and consumption of its infructescences ("buds" or "flowers"). Cultivation techniques for other purposes (such as hemp He ...
, remote temperature sensing, short-range
wireless communication Wireless communication (or just wireless, when the context allows) is the transfer of information between two or more points that do not use an electrical conductor In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), ph ...
,
spectroscopy Spectroscopy is the study of the interaction Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea of a two-way effect is essential in the concept of interaction, as opposed to a one-way ...

spectroscopy
, and
weather forecasting Weather forecasting is the application of science and technology forecasting, to predict the conditions of the Earth's atmosphere, atmosphere for a given location and time. People have attempted to predict the weather informally for millennia an ...
.


Definition and relationship to the electromagnetic spectrum

Infrared radiation extends from the nominal
red Red is the color at the long wavelength end of the visible spectrum Laser beams with visible spectrum The visible spectrum is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visual perception, visible to the human eye. Electromagnetic ...

red
edge of the
visible spectrum Laser beams with visible spectrum The visible spectrum is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visual perception, visible to the human eye. Electromagnetic radiation in this range of wavelengths is called visible light or simply ...
at 700
nanometers The nanometre (international spelling as used by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures; SI symbol: nm) or nanometer (American and British English spelling differences#-re, -er, American spelling) is a units of measurement, unit of leng ...
(nm) to 1
millimeter The millimetre ( international spelling; SI unit symbol mm) or millimeter ( American spelling) is a unit Unit may refer to: Arts and entertainment * UNIT, a fictional military organization in the science fiction television series ''Doctor Who'' ...
(mm). This range of wavelengths corresponds to a
frequency Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time A unit of time is any particular time Time is the indefinite continued sequence, progress of existence and event (philosophy), events that occur in an apparent ...
range of approximately 430  THz down to 300 
GHz The hertz (symbol: Hz) is the derived unit of frequency Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency, which emphasizes the contrast to spatial frequency and an ...
. Beyond infrared is the microwave portion of the
electromagnetic spectrum The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of frequencies Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency, which emphasizes the contrast to spatial frequency and angula ...

electromagnetic spectrum
.


Natural infrared

Sunlight Sunlight is a portion of the electromagnetic radiation given off by the Sun, in particular infrared, visible spectrum, visible, and ultraviolet light. On Earth, sunlight is light scattering by particles, scattered and attenuation, filtered thr ...

Sunlight
, at an effective temperature of 5,780 
kelvin The kelvin is the base unit of temperature Temperature is a physical quantity that expresses hot and cold. It is the manifestation of thermal energy, present in all matter, which is the source of the occurrence of heat, a flow of energy, ...

kelvin
s (5,510 °C, 9,940 °F), is composed of near-thermal-spectrum radiation that is slightly more than half infrared. At zenith, sunlight provides an
irradianceIn radiometry Radiometry is a set of techniques for measuring ' Measurement is the numerical quantification of the attributes of an object or event, which can be used to compare with other objects or events. The scope and application of measurem ...

irradiance
of just over 1 
kilowatt The watt (symbol: W) is a unit of power or radiant flux. In the International System of Units International is an adjective (also used as a noun) meaning "between nations". International may also refer to: Music Albums * International (Kevin ...

kilowatt
per square meter at sea level. Of this energy, 527 watts is infrared radiation, 445 watts is
visible light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visual perception, perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defined as having wavelengths in the range of 400–700 nano ...
, and 32 watts is
ultraviolet Ultraviolet (UV) is a form of electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that stud ...

ultraviolet
radiation. Nearly all the infrared radiation in sunlight is near infrared, shorter than 4 micrometers. On the surface of Earth, at far lower temperatures than the surface of the Sun, some thermal radiation consists of infrared in the mid-infrared region, much longer than in sunlight. However, black-body, or thermal, radiation is continuous: it gives off radiation at all wavelengths. Of these natural thermal radiation processes, only lightning and natural fires are hot enough to produce much visible energy, and fires produce far more infrared than visible-light energy.


Regions within the infrared

In general, objects emit infrared radiation across a spectrum of wavelengths, but sometimes only a limited region of the spectrum is of interest because sensors usually collect radiation only within a specific bandwidth. Thermal infrared radiation also has a maximum emission wavelength, which is inversely proportional to the absolute temperature of object, in accordance with
Wien's displacement law upright=1.45, Black-body radiation as a function of wavelength for various temperatures. Each temperature curve peaks at a different wavelength and Wien's law describes the shift of that peak. Wien's displacement law states that the black-body r ...
. The infrared band is often subdivided into smaller sections, although how the IR spectrum is thereby divided varies between different areas in which IR is employed.


Visible limit

Infrared radiation is generally considered to begin with wavelengths longer than visible by the human eye. However there is no ''hard'' wavelength limit to what is visible, as the eye's sensitivity decreases rapidly but smoothly, for wavelengths exceeding about 700 nm. Therefore wavelengths just longer than that can be seen if they are sufficiently bright, though they may still be classified as infrared according to usual definitions. Light from a near-IR laser may thus appear dim red and can present a hazard since it may actually be quite bright. And even IR at wavelengths up to 1,050 nm from pulsed lasers can be seen by humans under certain conditions.


Commonly used sub-division scheme

A commonly used sub-division scheme is: NIR and SWIR together is sometimes called "reflected infrared", whereas MWIR and LWIR is sometimes referred to as "thermal infrared".


CIE division scheme

The
International Commission on Illumination The International Commission on Illumination (usually abbreviated CIE for its French name, Commission internationale de l'éclairage) is the international authority on light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the port ...
(CIE) recommended the division of infrared radiation into the following three bands:


ISO 20473 scheme

ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental organizations), such as Codex Alimentarius in food, the World Health Or ...
20473 specifies the following scheme:


Astronomy division scheme

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. The most common photometric system used in astronomy allocates capital letters to different spectral regions according to filters used; I, J, H, and K cover the near-infrared wavelengths; L, M, N, and Q refer to the mid-infrared region. These letters are commonly understood in reference to atmospheric windows and appear, for instance, in the titles of many
papers Paper is a thin, flat material produced by the compression of fibres. Paper(s) or The Paper may also refer to: Publishing and academia * Newspaper, a periodical publication * Paper (magazine), ''Paper'' (magazine), an American monthly fashion and ...
.


Sensor response division scheme

A third scheme divides up the band based on the response of various detectors:Miller, ''Principles of Infrared Technology'' (Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1992), and Miller and Friedman, ''Photonic Rules of Thumb'', 2004. * Near-infrared: from 0.7 to 1.0 μm (from the approximate end of the response of the human eye to that of silicon). * Short-wave infrared: 1.0 to 3 μm (from the cut-off of silicon to that of the MWIR atmospheric window).
InGaAs Indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) (alternatively gallium indium arsenide, GaInAs) is a ternary alloy (chemical compound) of indium arsenide (InAs) and gallium arsenide (GaAs). Indium and gallium are (Group 13 element, group III) elements of the per ...
covers to about 1.8 μm; the less sensitive lead salts cover this region. Cryogenically cooled MCT detectors can cover the region of 1.0–2.5μm. * Mid-wave infrared: 3 to 5 μm (defined by the atmospheric window and covered by
indium antimonide Indium antimonide (InSb) is a crystalline compound made from the elements indium Indium is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, ...

indium antimonide
, InSb and mercury cadmium telluride, HgCdTe, and partially by
lead selenide Lead selenide (PbSe), or lead(II) selenide, a selenide of lead Lead is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Pb (from the Latin ) and atomic number 82. It is a heavy metals, heavy metal that is density, denser than most commo ...
, PbSe). * Long-wave infrared: 8 to 12, or 7 to 14 μm (this is the atmospheric window covered by HgCdTe and
microbolometer A microbolometer is a specific type of bolometer used as a detector in a thermal camera. Infrared Infrared (IR), sometimes called infrared light, is electromagnetic radiation (EMR) with wavelengths longer than those of visible light. It is ...

microbolometer
s). * Very-long wave infrared (VLWIR) (12 to about 30 μm, covered by doped silicon). Near-infrared is the region closest in wavelength to the radiation detectable by the human eye. mid- and
far-infrared 300px, Diagram of part of the electromagnetic spectrum Far infrared (FIR) is a region in the infrared Infrared (IR), sometimes called infrared light, is electromagnetic radiation (EMR) with wavelengths longer than those of visible light. I ...
are progressively further from the
visible spectrum Laser beams with visible spectrum The visible spectrum is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visual perception, visible to the human eye. Electromagnetic radiation in this range of wavelengths is called visible light or simply ...
. Other definitions follow different physical mechanisms (emission peaks, vs. bands, water absorption) and the newest follow technical reasons (the common
silicon Silicon is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard, brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre, and is a Tetravalence, tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor. It is a member ...

silicon
detectors are sensitive to about 1,050 nm, while
InGaAs Indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) (alternatively gallium indium arsenide, GaInAs) is a ternary alloy (chemical compound) of indium arsenide (InAs) and gallium arsenide (GaAs). Indium and gallium are (Group 13 element, group III) elements of the per ...
's sensitivity starts around 950 nm and ends between 1,700 and 2,600 nm, depending on the specific configuration). No international standards for these specifications are currently available. The onset of infrared is defined (according to different standards) at various values typically between 700 nm and 800 nm, but 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 longer wavelengths make insignificant contributions to scenes illuminated by common light sources. However, particularly intense near-IR light (e.g., from IR
laser A laser is a device that emits light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that can be visual perception, perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defined as ...

laser
s, IR LED sources, 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. Intense light sources providing wavelengths as long as 1,050 nm can be seen as a dull red glow, causing some difficulty in near-IR illumination of scenes in the dark (usually this practical problem is solved by indirect illumination). Leaves are particularly bright in the near IR, and if all visible light leaks from around an IR-filter are blocked, and the eye is given a moment to adjust to the extremely dim image coming through a visually opaque IR-passing photographic filter, it is possible to see the Wood effect that consists of IR-glowing foliage.


Telecommunication bands in the infrared

In
optical communications Optical communication, also known as optical telecommunication, is communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy), entities or Organization, gr ...
, the part of the infrared spectrum that is used is divided into seven bands based on availability of light sources transmitting/absorbing materials (fibers) and detectors: The C-band is the dominant band for long-distance
telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over wire A wire is a single usually cylindrical, flexible strand or rod of metal. Wires are used to bear mechanical loads or electricity Electr ...
networks. The S and L bands are based on less well established technology, and are not as widely deployed.


Heat

Infrared radiation is popularly known as "heat radiation", but light and electromagnetic waves of any frequency will heat surfaces that absorb them. Infrared light from the Sun accounts for 49% of the heating of Earth, with the rest being caused by visible light that is absorbed then re-radiated at longer wavelengths. Visible light or
ultraviolet Ultraviolet (UV) is a form of electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that stud ...

ultraviolet
-emitting
laser A laser is a device that emits light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that can be visual perception, perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defined as ...

laser
s can char paper and incandescently hot objects emit visible radiation. Objects at room
temperature Temperature is a physical quantity that expresses hot and cold. It is the manifestation of thermal energy, present in all matter, which is the source of the occurrence of heat, a flow of energy, when a body is in contact with another that is ...

temperature
will emit
radiation upThe international symbol for types and levels of ionizing radiation (radioactivity) that are unsafe for unshielded humans. Radiation, in general, exists throughout nature, such as in light and sound. In physics Physics (from grc ...
concentrated mostly in the 8 to 25 μm band, but this is not distinct from the emission of visible light by incandescent objects and ultraviolet by even hotter objects (see
black body A black body or blackbody is an idealized physical object, physical body that absorption (electromagnetic radiation), absorbs all incident electromagnetic radiation, regardless of frequency or angle of incidence (optics), angle of incidence. The ...

black body
and
Wien's displacement law upright=1.45, Black-body radiation as a function of wavelength for various temperatures. Each temperature curve peaks at a different wavelength and Wien's law describes the shift of that peak. Wien's displacement law states that the black-body r ...
).
Heat In thermodynamics, heat is energy in transfer to or from a thermodynamic system, by mechanisms other than Work (thermodynamics), thermodynamic work or Mass transfer, transfer of matter. The various mechanisms of energy transfer that define he ...

Heat
is energy in transit that flows due to a temperature difference. Unlike heat transmitted by
thermal conduction Thermal conduction is the transfer of internal energy by microscopic collisions of particles and movement of electrons within a body. The colliding particles, which include molecules, atoms and electrons, transfer disorganized microscopic kinetic an ...

thermal conduction
or
thermal convection Convection (or convective heat transfer) is the transfer of heat from one place to another due to the movement of fluid. Although often discussed as a distinct method of heat transfer, convective heat transfer involves the combined processes of ...
, thermal radiation can propagate through a
vacuum A vacuum is a space devoid of matter. The word is derived from the Latin adjective ''vacuus'' for "vacant" or "Void (astronomy), void". An approximation to such vacuum is a region with a gaseous pressure much less than atmospheric pressure. Ph ...

vacuum
. Thermal radiation is characterized by a particular spectrum of many wavelengths that are associated with emission from an object, due to the vibration of its molecules at a given temperature. Thermal radiation can be emitted from objects at any wavelength, and at very high temperatures such radiation is associated with spectra far above the infrared, extending into visible, ultraviolet, and even X-ray regions (e.g. the
solar corona A corona (, in turn derived from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the f ...
). Thus, the popular association of infrared radiation with thermal radiation is only a coincidence based on typical (comparatively low) temperatures often found near the surface of planet Earth. The concept of
emissivity work iron Iron () is a chemical element with Symbol (chemistry), symbol Fe (from la, Wikt:ferrum, ferrum) and atomic number 26. It is a metal that belongs to the first transition series and group 8 element, group 8 of the periodic table. It is ...
is important in understanding the infrared emissions of objects. This is a property of a surface that describes how its thermal emissions deviate from the idea of a
black body A black body or blackbody is an idealized physical object, physical body that absorption (electromagnetic radiation), absorbs all incident electromagnetic radiation, regardless of frequency or angle of incidence (optics), angle of incidence. The ...

black body
. To further explain, two objects at the same physical temperature may not show the same infrared image if they have differing emissivity. For example, for any pre-set emissivity value, objects with higher emissivity will appear hotter, and those with a lower emissivity will appear cooler (assuming, as is often the case, that the surrounding environment is cooler than the objects being viewed). When an object has less than perfect emissivity, it obtains properties of reflectivity and/or transparency, and so the temperature of the surrounding environment is partially reflected by and/or transmitted through the object. If the object were in a hotter environment, then a lower emissivity object at the same temperature would likely appear to be hotter than a more emissive one. For that reason, incorrect selection of emissivity and not accounting for environmental temperatures will give inaccurate results when using infrared cameras and pyrometers.


Applications


Night vision

Infrared is used in night vision equipment when there is insufficient
visible light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visual perception, perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defined as having wavelengths in the range of 400–700 nano ...
to see.
Night vision devices A standard M110. Note that in addition to the image intensifier, the NVD gathers much more light by its much larger aperture A night-vision device (NVD), also known as night optical/observation device (NOD) and night-vision goggles (NVG), is a ...
operate through a process involving the conversion of ambient light photons into electrons that are then amplified by a chemical and electrical process and then converted back into visible light. Infrared light sources can be used to augment the available ambient light for conversion by night vision devices, increasing in-the-dark visibility without actually using a visible light source. The use of infrared light and night vision devices should not be confused with
thermal imaging Infrared thermography (IRT), thermal imaging, and thermal video are examples of infrared imaging science. Thermographic camera A thermographic camera (also called an infrared camera or thermal imaging camera or thermal imager) is a device th ...
, which creates images based on differences in surface temperature by detecting infrared radiation (
heat In thermodynamics, heat is energy in transfer to or from a thermodynamic system, by mechanisms other than Work (thermodynamics), thermodynamic work or Mass transfer, transfer of matter. The various mechanisms of energy transfer that define he ...

heat
) that emanates from objects and their surrounding environment.


Thermography

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 upA sailor checking the temperature of a ventilation system. A pyrometer is a type of remote-sensing thermometer used to measure the temperature of distant objects. Various forms of pyrometers have historically existed. In the modern usage, it is ...
. 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 greatly reduced production costs. Thermographic cameras detect radiation in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum (roughly 9,000–14,000 nanometers or 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).


Hyperspectral imaging

Infrared light from the LED_of_a_remote_control_as_recorded_by_a_digital_camera.html" ;"title="remote_control.html" ;"title="LED of a
LED_of_a_remote_control_as_recorded_by_a_digital_camera">remote_control.html"_;"title="LED_of_a_remote_control">LED_of_a_remote_control_as_recorded_by_a_digital_camera A_hyperspectral_image_is_a_"picture"_containing_continuous_Infrared_spectroscopy.html" "title="remote control">LED of a remote control as recorded by a digital camera">remote_control.html" ;"title="LED of a remote control">LED of a remote control as recorded by a digital camera A hyperspectral image is a "picture" containing continuous Infrared spectroscopy">spectrum A spectrum (plural ''spectra'' or ''spectrums'') is a condition that is not limited to a specific set of values but can vary, without gaps, across a Continuum (theory), continuum. The word was first used scientifically in optics to describe the ...
through a wide spectral range at each pixel. Hyperspectral imaging is gaining importance in the field of applied spectroscopy particularly with NIR, SWIR, MWIR, and LWIR spectral regions. Typical applications include biological, mineralogical, defence, and industrial measurements. Thermal infrared hyperspectral imaging can be similarly performed using a thermographic camera, with the fundamental difference that each pixel contains a full LWIR spectrum. Consequently, chemical identification of the object can be performed without a need for an external light source such as the Sun or the Moon. Such cameras are typically applied for geological measurements, outdoor surveillance and UAV applications.Frost&Sullivan, Technical Insights, Aerospace&Defence (Feb 2011)
World First Thermal Hyperspectral Camera for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles


Other imaging

In infrared photography, infrared filters are used to capture the near-infrared spectrum. Digital cameras often use infrared Filter (optics), blockers. Cheaper digital cameras and camera phones have less effective filters and can "see" intense near-infrared, appearing as a bright purple-white color. This is especially pronounced when taking pictures of subjects near IR-bright areas (such as near a lamp), where the resulting infrared interference can wash out the image. There is also a technique called 'Terahertz radiation, T-ray' imaging, which is imaging using
far-infrared 300px, Diagram of part of the electromagnetic spectrum Far infrared (FIR) is a region in the infrared Infrared (IR), sometimes called infrared light, is electromagnetic radiation (EMR) with wavelengths longer than those of visible light. I ...
or
terahertz radiation Terahertz radiation – also known as submillimeter radiation, terahertz waves, tremendously high frequency (THF), T-rays, T-waves, T-light, T-lux or THz – consists of electromagnetic wave Electromagnetism is a branch of physic ...
. Lack of bright sources can make terahertz photography more challenging than most other infrared imaging techniques. Recently T-ray imaging has been of considerable interest due to a number of new developments such as terahertz time-domain spectroscopy.


Tracking

Infrared tracking, also known as infrared homing, refers to a Passive homing, passive missile guidance system, which uses the light emission, emission from a target of
electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through ...
in the infrared part of the Electromagnetic spectrum, spectrum to track it. Missiles that use infrared seeking are often referred to as "heat-seekers" since infrared (IR) is just below the visible spectrum of light in frequency and is radiated strongly by hot bodies. Many objects such as people, vehicle engines, and aircraft generate and retain heat, and as such, are especially visible in the infrared wavelengths of light compared to objects in the background.


Heating

Infrared radiation can be used as a deliberate heating source. For example, it is used in infrared saunas to heat the occupants. It may also be used in other heating applications, such as to remove ice from the wings of aircraft (de-icing). Infrared radiation is used in cooking, known as broiling or grilling. One energy advantage is that the IR energy heats only opaque objects, such as food, rather than the air around them. Infrared heating is also becoming more popular in industrial manufacturing processes, e.g. curing of coatings, forming of plastics, annealing, plastic welding, and 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.


Cooling

A variety of technologies or proposed technologies take advantage of infrared emissions to cool buildings or other systems. The LWIR (8–15 μm) region is especially useful since some radiation at these wavelengths can escape into space through the atmosphere.


Communications

IR data transmission is also employed in short-range communication among computer peripherals and personal digital assistants. These devices usually conform to standards published by Infrared Data Association, IrDA, the Infrared Data Association. Remote controls and IrDA devices use infrared light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to emit infrared radiation that may be concentrated by a Lens (optics), lens into a beam that the user aims at the detector. The beam is On–off keying, modulated, i.e. switched on and off, according to a code which the receiver interprets. Usually very near-IR is used (below 800 nm) for practical reasons. This wavelength is efficiently detected by inexpensive
silicon Silicon is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard, brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre, and is a Tetravalence, tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor. It is a member ...

silicon
photodiodes, which the receiver uses to convert the detected radiation to an electric current. That electrical signal is passed through a high-pass filter which retains the rapid pulsations due to the IR transmitter but filters out slowly changing infrared radiation from ambient light. Infrared communications are useful for indoor use in areas of high population density. IR does not penetrate walls and so does not interfere with other devices in adjoining rooms. Infrared is the most common way for remote controls to command appliances. Infrared remote control protocols like RC-5, Sony Infrared Remote Control, SIRC, are used to communicate with infrared. Free space optical communication using infrared
laser A laser is a device that emits light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that can be visual perception, perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defined as ...

laser
s 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, except for the radiation damage. "Since the eye cannot detect IR, blinking or closing the eyes to help prevent or reduce damage may not happen." Infrared lasers are used to provide the light for optical fiber communications systems. Infrared light with a wavelength around 1,330 nm (least Dispersion (optics), 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. Transmitting IR data from one device to another is sometimes referred to as beaming.


Spectroscopy

Infrared spectroscopy, Infrared vibrational spectroscopy (see also near-infrared spectroscopy) is a technique that can be used to identify molecules by analysis of their constituent bonds. Each chemical bond in a molecule vibrates at a frequency characteristic of that bond. A group of atoms in a molecule (e.g., CH2) may have multiple modes of oscillation caused by the stretching and bending motions of the group as a whole. If an oscillation leads to a change in dipole in the molecule then it will absorb a
photon The photon ( el, φῶς, phōs, light) is a type of elementary particle In particle physics, an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a subatomic particle that is not composed of other particles. Particles currently thought to be eleme ...

photon
that has the same frequency. The vibrational frequencies of most molecules correspond to the frequencies of infrared light. Typically, the technique is used to study organic compounds using light radiation from the mid-infrared, 4,000–400 cm−1. A spectrum of all the frequencies of absorption in a sample is recorded. This can be used to gain information about the sample composition in terms of chemical groups present and also its purity (for example, a wet sample will show a broad O-H absorption around 3200 cm−1). The unit for expressing radiation in this application, cm−1, is the spectroscopic wavenumber. It is the frequency divided by the speed of light in vacuum.


Thin film metrology

In the semiconductor industry, infrared light can be used to characterize materials such as thin films and periodic trench structures. By measuring the reflectance of light from the surface of a semiconductor wafer, the index of refraction (n) and the extinction Coefficient (k) can be determined via the Refractive index and extinction coefficient of thin film materials, Forouhi-Bloomer dispersion equations. The reflectance from the infrared light can also be used to determine the critical dimension, depth, and sidewall angle of high aspect ratio trench structures.


Meteorology

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). Clouds with high and cold tops, such as cyclones or cumulonimbus clouds, are often displayed as red or black, lower warmer clouds such as Stratus cloud, stratus or stratocumulus are displayed as blue or grey, with intermediate clouds shaded accordingly. Hot land surfaces are shown as dark-grey or black. One disadvantage of infrared imagery is that low cloud such as stratus or fog can have a temperature similar 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. The main water vapour channel at 6.40 to 7.08 μm can be imaged by some weather satellites and shows the amount of moisture in the atmosphere.


Climatology

In the field of climatology, atmospheric infrared radiation is monitored to detect trends in the energy exchange between the earth and the atmosphere. These trends provide information on long-term changes in Earth's climate. It is one of the primary parameters studied in research into global warming, together with solar radiation. 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.


Astronomy

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 Infrared window, 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 cloud A molecular cloud, sometimes called a stellar nursery (if star formation Star formation is the process by which dense regions within molecular clouds in interstellar space, sometimes referred to as "stellar nurseries" or "star-forming regions", Je ...
s 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
planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibrium, rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and ...

planet
s 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 galaxy, 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.


Infrared cleaning

Infrared cleaning is a technique used by some motion picture film scanners, film scanners and flatbed scanners to reduce or remove the effect of dust and scratches upon the finished image scanning, scan. It works by collecting an additional infrared channel from the scan at the same position and resolution as the three visible color channels (red, green, and blue). The infrared channel, in combination with the other channels, is used to detect the location of scratches and dust. Once located, those defects can be corrected by scaling or replaced by inpainting.


Art conservation and analysis

Infrared reflectography can be applied to paintings to reveal underlying layers in a non-destructive manner, in particular the artist's underdrawing or outline drawn as a guide. Art conservators use the technique to examine how the visible layers of paint differ from the underdrawing or layers in between (such alterations are called pentimento, 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. In general, the more pentimenti, the more likely a painting is to be the prime version. It also gives useful insights into working practices. Reflectography often reveals the artist's use of carbon black, which shows up well in reflectograms, as long as it has not also been used in the ground underlying the whole painting. Recent progress in the design of infrared-sensitive cameras makes it possible to discover and depict not only underpaintings and pentimenti, but entire paintings that were later overpainted by the artist. Notable examples are Picasso's ''Woman Ironing'' and ''Blue Room (Picasso), Blue Room'', where in both cases a portrait of a man has been made visible under the painting as it is known today. Similar uses of infrared are made by conservators and scientists 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 Mogao Caves, Dunhuang Caves. Carbon black used in ink can show up extremely well.


Biological systems

The Crotalinae, pit viper has 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''). Some fungi like ''Venturia inaequalis'' require near-infrared light for ejection Although near-infrared vision (780–1,000 nm) has long been deemed impossible due to noise in visual pigments, sensation of near-infrared light was reported in the common carp and in three cichlid species. Fish use NIR to capture prey and for phototactic swimming orientation. NIR sensation in fish may be relevant under poor lighting conditions during twilight and in turbid surface waters.


Photobiomodulation

Near-infrared light, or photobiomodulation, is used for treatment of chemotherapy-induced oral ulceration as well as wound healing. There is some work relating to anti-herpes virus treatment. Research projects include work on central nervous system healing effects via cytochrome c oxidase upregulation and other possible mechanisms.


Health hazards

Strong infrared radiation in certain industry high-heat settings may be hazardous to the eyes, resulting in damage or blindness to the user. Since the radiation is invisible, special IR-proof goggles must be worn in such places.


History of infrared science

The discovery of infrared radiation is ascribed to
William Herschel Frederick William Herschel (; german: Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel; 15 November 1738 – 25 August 1822) was a German-born British astronomer and composer of music. He frequently collaborated with his younger sister and fellow astronomer Ca ...

William Herschel
, the astronomer, in the early 19th century. Herschel published his results in 1800 before the Royal Society of London. Herschel used a Triangular prism (optics), prism to refract light from the sun and detected the infrared, beyond the
red Red is the color at the long wavelength end of the visible spectrum Laser beams with visible spectrum The visible spectrum is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visual perception, visible to the human eye. Electromagnetic ...

red
part of the spectrum, through an increase in the temperature recorded on a
thermometer (mercury-in-glass thermometer) for measurement of room temperature. A thermometer is a device that temperature measurement, measures temperature or a temperature gradient A temperature gradient is a physical quantity that describes in which dir ...

thermometer
. He was surprised at the result and called them "Calorific Rays". The term "infrared" did not appear until late 19th century. Other important dates include: * 1830: Leopoldo Nobili made the first thermopile IR detector. * 1840: John Herschel produces the first thermal image, called a thermogram. * 1860: Gustav Kirchhoff formulated the Kirchhoff's law of thermal radiation, blackbody theorem E = J(T, n). * 1873: Willoughby Smith discovered the photoconductivity of selenium. * 1878: Samuel Pierpont Langley invents the first bolometer, a device which is able to measure small temperature fluctuations, and thus the power of far infrared sources. * 1879: Stefan–Boltzmann law formulated empirically that the power radiated by a blackbody is proportional to ''T''4. * 1880s and 1890s: John Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh, Lord Rayleigh and Wilhelm Wien solved part of the blackbody equation, but both solutions diverged in parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. This problem was called the "ultraviolet catastrophe and infrared catastrophe". * 1892: Willem Henri Julius published infrared spectra of 20 organic compounds measured with a bolometer in units of angular displacement. * 1901: Max Planck published the Planck's law, blackbody equation and theorem. He solved the problem by quantizing the allowable energy transitions. * 1905: Albert Einstein developed the theory of the photoelectric effect. * 1905–1908: William Coblentz published infrared spectra in units of wavelength (micrometers) for several chemical compounds in ''Investigations of Infra-Red Spectra''. * 1917: Theodore Case developed the thallous sulfide detector; British scientist built the first infra-red search and track (IRST) device able to detect aircraft at a range of one mile (1.6 km). * 1935: Lead salts – early missile guidance in World War II. * 1938: Yeou Ta predicted that the pyroelectric effect could be used to detect infrared radiation. * 1945: The Zielgerät 1229 "Vampir" infrared weapon system was introduced as the first portable infrared device for military applications. * 1952: Heinrich Welker grew synthetic Indium antimonide, InSb crystals. * 1950s and 1960s: Nomenclature and radiometric units defined by Fred Nicodemenus, G. J. Zissis and R. Clark; Robert Clark Jones defined ''D''*. * 1958: W. D. Lawson (Royal Radar Establishment in Malvern) discovered IR detection properties of Mercury cadmium telluride (HgCdTe). * 1958: AIM-4 Falcon, Falcon and AIM-9 Sidewinder, Sidewinder missiles were developed using infrared technology. * 1960s: Paul Kruse (engineer), Paul Kruse and his colleagues at Honeywell, Honeywell Research Center demonstrate the use of HgCdTe as an effective chemical compound, compound for infrared detection. * 1962: J. Cooper demonstrated pyroelectric detection. * 1964: W. G. Evans discovered infrared thermoreceptors in a pyrophile beetle. * 1965: First IR handbook; first commercial imagers (Barnes, Agema (now part of FLIR Systems Inc.)); Richard Hudson (physicist), Richard Hudson's landmark text; F4 TRAM FLIR by Hughes Aircraft Company, Hughes; phenomenology pioneered by Fred Simmons (scientist), Fred Simmons and A. T. Stair; U.S. Army's night vision lab formed (now Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD)), and Rachets develops detection, recognition and identification modeling there. * 1970: Willard Boyle and George E. Smith proposed CCD at Bell Labs for picture phone. * 1973: Common module program started by NVESD. * 1978: Infrared imaging astronomy came of age, observatories planned, NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, IRTF on Mauna Kea opened; 32 × 32 and 64 × 64 arrays produced using InSb, HgCdTe and other materials. * 2013: On 14 February, researchers developed a neural implant that gives rats the ability to sense infrared light, which for the first time provides living creatures with new abilities, instead of simply replacing or augmenting existing abilities.


See also


Notes


References


External links


Infrared: A Historical Perspective
(Omega Engineering)
Infrared Data Association
a standards organization for infrared data interconnection



* [https://web.archive.org/web/20060114051647/http://imagers.gsfc.nasa.gov/ems/infrared.html Infrared Waves]: detailed explanation of infrared light. (NASA)
Herschel's original paper from 1800 announcing the discovery of infrared light

The thermographic's library
collection of thermogram
Infrared reflectography in analysis of paintings
at ColourLex * Molly Faries
Techniques and Applications – Analytical Capabilities of Infrared Reflectography: An Art Historian s Perspective
in Scientific Examination of Art: Modern Techniques in Conservation and Analysis, Sackler NAS Colloquium, 2005 {{DEFAULTSORT:Infrared Infrared, Electromagnetic spectrum