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Technology Close-Up:

Photonics Spectra
Apr 2000
Beyond the Visible

Fred Schaff, Imaging Systems Consultant

With the availability of war-surplus night-vision viewers and the development of uncooled thermal infrared sensors, infrared imaging has moved to civilian applications. However, few technologists have a feel for its use in the field.

The term "night vision" covers an array of usages and spectra. Technologies include resistorlike microbolometers for uncooled thermal IR detectors, capacitorlike CCDs of silicon/mercury cadmium telluride and inductorlike pyroelectrics, plus the human eye with intensification of visible and near-visible light by photomultiplier tubes and microchannel plates.

As more people begin to understand how infrared imaging can help solve problems in law enforcement, industry and consumer applications, sales should increase and prices drop.

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