Infrared2Humans at normal body temperature radiate chiefly at wavelengths around 10 μm (micrometers), as shown byWien's displacement law.At the atomic level, IR 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 for molecules of the proper symmetry. Infraredspectroscopy examines absorption and transmission of photons in the IR energy range, based on their frequency andintensity.
Different regions in the IR
Objects generally emit IR radiation across a spectrum of wavelengths, but sometimes only a limited region of thespectrum is of interest because sensors usually collect radiation only within a specific bandwidth. Therefore, the IRband is often subdivided into smaller sections.
Commonly used sub-division scheme
A commonly used sub-division scheme is:
Division NameAbbreviationWavelengthPhoton EnergyCharacteristicsNear-infrared
0.75-1.4 µm0.9-1.7 eVDefined by the water absorption, and commonly used in fiber optictelecommunication because of low attenuation losses in the SiO
glass (silica) medium. Image intensifiers are sensitive to this area of the spectrum. Examples include night vision devices such as nightvision goggles.
1.4-3 µm0.4-0.9 eVWater absorption increases significantly at 1,450 nm. The 1,530 to1,560 nm range is the dominant spectral region for long-distancetelecommunications.
;MidIR.Alsocalled intermediateinfrared (IIR)3-8 µm150-400 meVIn guided missile technology the 3-5 µm portion of this band is theatmospheric window in which the homing heads of passive IR 'heatseeking' missiles are designed to work, homing on to the Infraredsignature of the target aircraft, typically the jet engine exhaust plume
15 µm80-150 meVThis is the "thermal imaging" region, in which sensors can obtain acompletely passive picture of the outside world based on thermalemissions only and requiring no external light or thermal source suchas the sun, moon or infrared illuminator. Forward-looking infrared(FLIR) systems use this area of the spectrum. This region is alsocalled the "thermal infrared."
FIR15 -1,000 µm1.2-80 meV(see also far-infrared laser).
NIR and SWIR is sometimes called "reflected infrared" while MWIR and LWIR is sometimes referred to as "thermalinfrared." Due to the nature of the blackbody radiation curves, typical 'hot' objects, such as exhaust pipes, oftenappear brighter in the MW compared to the same object viewed in the LW.