Thermal Imaging Tools

Thermal imaging technology allows camera function in complete darkness.

Thermal imaging tools and devices are designed to aid vision and provide camera function in extreme temperature conditions or darkness. There are two main types of thermal imaging tools: Uncooled and cryogenically cooled systems. Uncooled devices are now the most commonly used and incorporate infra-red technology to operate at room temperature, whereas cryogenically cooled devices are cooled internally to zero Centigrade to help provide increased sensitivity and image resolution. Each provide their own benefits in the applications of night vision and infra-red technology.

Cryogenically Cooled Thermal Imaging Tools

Cryogenically cooled thermal imaging tools are more complex in design than uncooled devices, and also more expensive to manufacture and operate. They are generally enclosed in sealed cases and cryogenically cooled to approximately zero Centigrade. The share many design traits with standard image detection tools, but absorb infrared energy that triggers the tools electrical properties. As these devices are cooled to a level that is often lower than the temperature of the objects they are capturing, they operate with increased sensitivity and resolution of display. These devices are typically heavy-weight, cumbersome and time consuming to operate, making them most suited to an immobile application or individual and non-commercial use.

Uncooled Thermal Imaging Tools

Uncooled thermal imaging tools are more affordable and suited for widespread commercial and military utilization.

The technology incorporated in uncooled thermal imaging tools has advanced in recent years, and emerged as an affordable and easy to operate alternative to cryogenically cooled devices. These tools do not require cooling prior to operation, and in fact can operate at room temperature. The absence of a cooling system makes these models more light-weight, portable and energy efficient. They work by absorbing infrared radiation from scenes of darkness that effect changes in their electrical detector properties. A contrast is then performed with baseline values to produce the thermal image. These tools are not as defined or sensitive as cryogenically cooled devices, but they provide an affordable technology for wide commercial and increasing military utilization.

US Army’s Thermal Weapon Sight II

An example of the application of uncooled technology in a military scenario is the US Army’s Thermal Weapon Sight II. The American government has invested an estimated $22 million over the last few years to produce this application for the Marine Corps, improving threat detection and safety at an economically viable cost. The light model Thermal Weapon Sight II uses the technology of uncooled detectors, enabling it to combine thermal imaging properties with a more lightweight and easy to operate weapon. Medium and heavy uncooled Thermal Weapon Sight products have also been designed to mount an array of specialized weapons and equipment, and the technology is being developed to suit other similar military applications.