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Infrared Radiation

Infrared Radiation



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Published by: Pikachu on Sep 21, 2008
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Sagar Naik,
 Infrared Radiations (Notes)
Sagar Naik,
 Infrared radiations lie within that part of the electromagnetic spectrumwhich gives rise to heating when absorbed by matter. Infrared radiations are those,whose wavelengths are longer than that of visible red light extending to the microwave region, i.e., from 760 nm to 1 mm.
These infrared radiations can be subdivided into three regions or bands,A, B, and C, approximately distinguished by their absorption characteristics. A and Bare utilized therapeutically and corresponds roughly to an older classification of ‘near’and ‘far’ infrared.
Type Wavelength
IRA 760 nm to 1400 nmIRB 1400 nm to 3000 nmIRC 3000 nm to 1 mm(not used in therapy)
 Former Classification
Near or Short IR760 nm to 1500 nmFar or Long IR 1500 nm to 15000 nm
 Infrared radiations are produced in all matter by various kinds of  molecular vibration.
Any hot body emits infrared rays; the sun, gas fires, coal fires,electric fires, hot water pipes, etc. Thus
 any object emits infrared radiations and  material that is at temperature above absolute zero emits infrared 
The frequencies atwhich the maximum intensity of radiation is emitted are proportional to temperature.
 Thus the higher the temperature the higher the frequency and hence the shorter thewavelength.At the higher temperatures generated by a tungsten filament light bulb thepeak emission is about 960 nm, i.e., in the near infrared, with plenty of emission in thevisible region. The human body also emits a whole range of infrared radiations, mainlytype C, and with peak around 10,000 nm. Absorption of all these radiations causessimilar kinds of molecular vibrations and thereby produces heating effect.
The shorter, visible radiations not only cause molecular and atomic motion but can also break chemical bonds when they are absorbed. This provokes
Sagar Naik,
 chemical changes in the retinal pigments, which are detected via the optic nerve as sight.
Production of Infrared Radiations: 
 Any heated material will produce infrared radiations, the wavelength being determined by the temperature.
If short infrared is to be produced efficientlythe material must not be oxidized (burnt) by the higher temperatures used. The mostconvenient method is to heat a resistance wire by passing an electric current throughit.
Therapeutic Infrared Lamps:
Various kinds of infrared lamps are used for therapy. Infrared sources canbe either natural (sun) or artificial (luminous or non-luminous lamps).
 Non – Luminous Generators:
One type is made in a similar way to an electric fire (it is made up of a coilof suitable resistance wire, such as nickel-chrome alloy, wound on aceramic insulator).
In these heaters the wire glows red thus giving some radiations in thevisible region but peak emission in the short infrared.
The ceramic material, being heated to a lower temperature than the wire,gives only infrared and no visible radiations.
Some infrared lamps for therapy have the wire embedded in the insulatingceramic (or porcelain or fireclay) so that no visible radiations are given out.
The heater wire can also be mounted behind a metal plate or inside a metal tube, which does not become red-hot but emits infrared in the sameway.
As such a lamp becomes hotter all the protective wire mesh and thereflector – become heated, giving off a range of wavelengths from near tofar infrared.
The infrared emitter is placed at the focus of a hemispherical or parabolic reflector to reflect the radiations into an approximately uniform beam.
However, the beam does diverge somewhat due to the relatively large sizeof the emitter compared to the reflector, and this serves to reduce the risk of 
 hot spots
The reflector and emitter are mounted on a strong, firmly supported metalstand, which can be adjusted to alter the height and angle of thereflector/emitter.
Sagar Naik,
When such lamps are switched on they require some time to warm up because of the thermal inertia of the considerable mass of the metal and insulating material that has to be heated.
 Non – luminous lamps take longer than luminous lamps to reach a stable, peak level of heat emission as the molecular oscillation causing heating spreads through the body of the heater.
 Luminous Generators:
 Luminous generators (incandescent lamps) consist of a tungsten filamentin a large glass envelope, which contains inert gas at low pressure.
Part of the inside of the glass bulb is often silvered to provide a reflector.
These lamps work on the same principle as a simple electric light bulb;
 the filament is heated to a high temperature (around 3000
C) by the current passed through it and so gives off a continuous spectrum in the infrared  and visible regions
Oxidation of the filament does not occur because there is no oxygen present, only a trace of some inert gas.
The peak emission occurs at near 1000 nm but radiation extends from the long infrared throughout the visible to the ultraviolet. These later radiations are absorbed by the glass and are not therefore transmitted by the lamp.
Sometimes the glass is reddened, absorbing some of the green and bluerays to give a red visible emission; this is believed to make little differencetherapeutically.
Luminous generators are sometimes called ‘
 radiant heat
’ generators,
indicating that heating is by both infrared and visible radiations
The power of infrared sources can broadly be described as:
Smaller lamps (luminous & non – luminous), usually 250 – 500 W
Large, non – luminous, 750 – 1000 W
Large, luminous, 600 – 1500 W
Generally, the larger lamps are used to treat extensive areas but the sameeffect can be achieved by mounting three smaller luminous bulbs, whichcan be separately controlled in one holder. In this way a large area can becovered with all the bulbs in use and a small area using only one or two.
Large lamps are fitted with wire-mesh screens over the front of thereflector to prevent accidental contact with the hot emitter. The screen willalso diminish any remote risk of the hot emitter element falling out.

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