What is Infrared?

Thermography and Infrared Light

Normally, our vision is limited to a very small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Thermal energy has a much longer wavelength than visible light. So long, in fact, that the human eye can't even see it, just like we can't see radio waves.

With thermal imaging, the portion of the spectrum we perceive is dramatically expanded, helping us "see" and "measure" thermal energy emitted from an object. Unlike visible light, in the infrared world, everything with a temperature above absolute zero emits heat. Even very cold objects, like ice cubes, emit infrared. And visible light doesn't affect the thermal world, so you can see equally well in highly lit and totally dark environments.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum

The higher the object's temperature, the greater the IR radiation emitted. Infrared allows us to see what our eyes cannot. Infrared thermography cameras produce images of invisible infrared or "heat" radiation and provide precise non-contact temperature measurement capabilities. Nearly everything gets hot before it fails, making infrared cameras extremely cost-effective, valuable diagnostic tools in many diverse applications. And as industry strives to improve manufacturing efficiencies, manage energy, improve product quality, and enhance worker safety, new applications for infrared cameras continually emerge.

How Does an IR Camera Work?

Infrared Energy Detection

An infrared camera is a non-contact device that detects infrared energy (heat) and converts it into an electronic signal, which is then processed to produce a thermal image or video, on which you can perform temperature calculations. Heat sensed by an infrared camera can be very precisely quantified, or measured, allowing you to not only monitor thermal performance, but also identify and evaluate the relative severity of heat-related problems.

Recent Infrared Innovations

Recent innovations, particularly detector technology, the incorporation of built-in visual imaging, automatic functionality, and infrared software development, deliver more cost-effective thermal analysis solutions than ever before.