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The basics of Infrared and Thermographic Imaging
What is infrared?
What is Infrared Imaging?
How can I apply it to my needs?

Infrared (IR) radiation is electromagnetic radiation of a wavelength longer than that of visible light, but shorter than that of microwaves. The name means "below red" (from the Latin infra, "below"), red being the color of visible light with the longest wavelength. Infrared radiation has wavelengths between about 750 nm and 1 mm, spanning five orders of magnitude. Humans at normal body temperature can radiate at a wavelength of 10 microns.

Infrared imaging is used extensively for both military and civilian purposes. Military applications include target acquisition, surveillance, night vision, homing and tracking. Non-military uses include thermal efficiency analysis, remote temperature sensing, short-ranged wireless communication, spectroscopy, and weather forecasting. Infrared astronomy uses sensor-equipped telescopes to penetrate dusty regions of space, such as molecular clouds; detect cool objects such as planets, and to view highly red-shifted objects from the early days of the universe.

At the atomic level, infrared 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. Infrared spectroscopy examines absorption and transmission of photons in the infrared energy range, based on their frequency and intensity.


Infrared imaging, or also known as thermographic imaging, is a image that taken in the infrared spectrum rather than the visual spectrum.

Each pixel of the infrared image contains the average temperature from the area covered by the pixel. The temperature data is saved in a file that preserves this data for analysis and future reference. This information cannot be altered in the file.

The corresponding temperatures of the image's pixels are assigned a color from a color pallet. Each shade of color on the color pallet represents a specific temperature. The color pallet and the color's representative temperature can be adjusted to show the best detail between the temperature variations.

The result is an image of the target depicting the temperatures of the different surfaces in an amazing amount of detail.


Thermographic imaging can be used in many different applications to identify issues that have a thermal signature. Thermographic imaging is a great technology for predictive/preventative maintenance applications in building systems. For example, electrical components will get hot prior to failure. The thermal differences can be seen before the piece of equipment fails.

Non-destructive testing can be performed on many different surfaces in a multitude of methods to identify problems with a material. A great example of this application is in the marine industry by locating cracks and voids in fiberglass boat hulls.

Energy audits are becoming very popular with the rise in energy costs. Thermographic imaging can be deployed in this application with dramatic results. A couple of examples of this application would be locating an air leak around a window in a structure or finding voids in insulation in an exterior wall.

For more information on these or any other application, please call us and we will be happy to discuss your needs and application.