Considered one of the biggest breakthroughs in modern science, infrared technology has been able to be used in various types of applications. From night-vision goggles used in military operations, missiles that utilize it as part of their heat-seeking technology to locate targets, and even advanced weather forecasting are just some of the many areas in which infrared technology is used. However, while many people have heard of it, few are aware of just what is involved in the creation of infrared radiation or infrared light, as it is sometimes called. If you are fascinated by this technology and want to learn more about it, here are four facts about how infrared technology works.
1- Vibrational Movements
To gain a better understanding of this technology, it is important to know more about vibrational movements, which are a key aspect of infrared radiation or light. According to scientists, over half of all the Sun’s total energy output makes it to Earth in the form of infrared energy. As a result, when it hits the Earth’s atmosphere, molecules absorb the radiation. When this happens, the rotational and vibrational movements of the molecules and radiation are changed, creating an energy state that allows the infrared energy to be used in various applications. This is particularly seen when it is used in infrared spectroscopy, which examines how photons in the infrared energy range are absorbed and transmitted. To learn more about the role vibrational movements play in infrared technology, look here.
2- Heat Radiation
To many scientists, it is far more common to refer to infrared radiation as heat radiation. This is due to the fact that almost all types of infrared radiation will heat various surfaces that absorb the heat emitted from various frequencies of infrared heat. For example, since the Sun’s infrared light is responsible for one-half of all Earth’s heat, it can be absorbed by various surfaces, then re-radiated to heat even more types of surfaces. This technology is most often seen in the use of lasers, where UV-emitting lasers can burn paper and make other objects they touch emit powerful and visible radiation. This type of technology is often used in a process known as infrared cleaning, where dust and scratches are removed from motion picture film and photographs. Using lasers that are designed to use very fine and precise emissions of heat, the films and photos are corrected by a process known as scaling. More details about this can be found here.
3- Weather Satellites and Infrared Technology
As weather forecasting has become more precise in recent years, infrared technology has been used more and more in weather satellites. Using scanning radiometers, the satellites can produce numerous types of infrared images. When this happens, meteorologists can then use the data to pinpoint specific types of clouds, as well as their height. By doing so, they are better able to predict such weather events as thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Along with this, the satellites can also determine surface water temperatures, ocean currents, and even detect various types of ocean surface features. Due to this advanced technology, the shipping and fishing industries rely heavily on infrared technology to determine the safest areas in which to travel and fish.
4- Human and Animal Uses of Infrared Technology
Believe it or not, most animals on Earth, humans included, emit some form of infrared radiation. In fact, couples who sleep together are transmitting infrared radiation back and forth to one another, which explains why the spot in your bed where you slept is always very warm when you awaken. Along with this, if you are sitting down and talking with another person, the same process is occurring. When it comes to animals, infrared uses are astounding. For example, rattlesnakes are equipped with sensory pits, which enable them to see images in infrared light. Because of this, they can detect warm-blooded animals, such as rodents, in complete darkness. In fact, scientists also think these snakes have depth perception in infrared light, making them even more effective hunters. And finally, fish also use infrared radiation to catch prey and navigate through dark waters of all types, from lakes and rivers to vast oceans.