A special type of thermal imaging camera that can enable soldiers to see objects in complete darkness has been developed by Scientists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.
Dr. Kristan Gurton, an experimental physicist in the Computational and Information Sciences Directorate, and Dr. Sean Hu, an electronics engineer in the Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate, are leading this effort for the laboratory.
How Thermal Imaging Works?
Gurton explains that “All objects that have a non-zero temperature emit thermal radiation and the intensity of that radiation is proportional to its temperature.
This emission always happens in the environment whether it’s day or night. This explains to you how the Army uses thermal cameras to see objects that are often hidden in the dark.
Even so, along with the infrared radiation, there is another characteristic of light that is often ignored when it comes to thermal imaging: polarization state.
“Researchers have known for about 30 years that man-made objects emit thermal radiation that is partially polarized, for example, trucks, aircraft, buildings, vehicles, etc., and that natural objects like grass, soil, trees, and bushes tend to emit thermal radiation that exhibits very little polarization,” Gurton said.
Along with the private sector, they have come up with a special type of thermal camera that can record images based on the polarization state of the light rather than the intensity. This allows Soldiers to see hidden objects in complete darkness which is not possible when using conventional thermal cameras.”
This can enable our soldiers to detect the hidden trip-wires and booby-traps, to see camouflaged targets, buried land-mines, and IED, and enhanced targeting and tracking of missiles, mortars, unmanned aerial vehicles, and other airborne threats.
The team’s most recent and exciting discovery involves the ability to detect and identify specific human subjects during complete darkness.
Gurton and the other researchers are actively working to miniaturize the camera platform and make the systems more affordable.
Originally published on ARL