Infrared technology has opened the flood gates of technological advancements.
Infrared is a type of light whose waves are invisible to human eyes, although electronic devices can detect and glean meaningful information from them.
Today, infrared technology plays a major role in applications ranging from night vision and thermography to tracking, meteorology and heating.
Infrared technology has even found its way into art circles. Infrared lights are now used to look under layers of painting to determine if there are older layers underneath.
Like most areas of technology, infrared is evolving rapidly. A particularly exciting innovation in infrared detector technology is smaller pixel pitches.
The pixel pitch, or distance between the individual pixels, is critical in determining how many pixels—the detector’s eyes—can be fabricated on a silicon wafer. Pixel pitches are constantly improving, so it is good to keep an eye on the latest advances in this area.
Currently, some manufacturers are able to offer infrared detectors with pixel pitches between 17 µm and 12 µm for microbolometers. Pixel pitches of 8 µm—which would drastically reduce detector surface areas and increase image resolutions—are currently at the R&D stage.
Artificial intelligence is also impacting infrared detector technology. AI has the capacity to bring infrared systems new capabilities and add value. AI is already used with thermal imaging in areas like airborne optronics, where infrared detectors are integrated into ultra-connected systems capable of processing, analyzing, and transmitting images to humans to enhance decision-making in combat scenarios, for instance.
AI is also being used in conjunction with thermal imaging in autonomous vehicle obstacle detection systems. Infrared sensors can effectively capture images even when visibility is low (such as in bad weather or at night), and the integrated AI can then analyze and trigger an appropriate response to the images captured.
Additionally, LWIR (long-wave infrared) can generate particularly high-contrast images, independent of the ambient light. These images are especially easy for AI to interpret.
Want to learn more? Tonex offers Fundamentals of Infrared (IR) Technology, a 2-day course that provides a basic understanding of the physical background and engineering considerations required for the design of IR systems, examining all components and combining them into imaging, sensor and surveillance systems.
Participants will learn about state-of-the-art optical systems, lightweight mirrors and adaptive optics, planar-hybrid and Z-technology focal planes, design of a ground-based IR astronomical telescope, laser-radar systems.
For more information, questions, comments, contact us.