F-number: Unlike high speed visible light cameras, objective lenses for infrared cameras that utilize cooled infrared detectors must be designed to be compatible with the internal optical design of the dewar (the cold housing in which the infrared detector FPA is located) because the dewar is designed with a cold stop (or aperture) inside that prevents parasitic radiation from impinging on the detector. Because of the cold stop, the radiation from the camera and lens housing are blocked, infrared radiation that could far exceed that received from the objects under observation. As a result, the infrared energy captured by the detector is primarily due to the object’s radiation. The location and size of the exit pupil of the infrared lenses (and the f-number) must be designed to match the location and diameter of the dewar cold stop. (Actually, the lens f-number can always be lower than the effective cold stop f-number, as long as it is designed for the cold stop in the proper position).
Lenses for cameras having cooled infrared detectors need to be specially designed not only for the specific resolution and location of the FPA but also to accommodate for the location and diameter of a cold stop that prevents parasitic radiation from hitting the detector làm bằng đại học .
Resolution: The modulation transfer function (MTF) of a lens is the characteristic that helps determine the ability of the lens to resolve object details. The image produced by an optical system will be somewhat degraded due to lens aberrations and diffraction. The MTF describes how the contrast of the image varies with the spatial frequency of the image content. As expected, larger objects have relatively high contrast when compared to smaller objects. Normally, low spatial frequencies have an MTF close to 1 (or 100%); as the spatial frequency increases, the MTF eventually drops to zero, the ultimate limit of resolution for a given optical system.
3. High Speed Infrared Camera Features: variable exposure time, frame rate, triggering, radiometry
High speed infrared cameras are ideal for imaging fast-moving thermal objects as well as thermal events that occur in a very short time period, too short for standard 30 Hz infrared cameras to capture precise data. Popular applications include the imaging of airbag deployment, turbine blades analysis, dynamic brake analysis, thermal analysis of projectiles and the study of heating effects of explosives. In each of these situations, high speed infrared cameras are effective tools in performing the necessary analysis of events that are otherwise undetectable. It is because of the high sensitivity of the infrared camera’s cooled MCT detector that there is the possibility of capturing high-speed thermal events.
The MCT infrared detector is implemented in a “snapshot” mode where all the pixels simultaneously integrate the thermal radiation from the objects under observation. A frame of pixels can be exposed for a very short interval as short as <1 microsecond to as long as 10 milliseconds. Unlike high speed visible cameras, high speed infrared cameras do not require the use of strobes to view events, so there is no need to synchronize illumination with the pixel integration. The thermal emission from objects under observation is normally sufficient to capture fully-featured images of the object in motion.
Because of the benefits of the high performance MCT detector, as well as the sophistication of the digital image processing, it is possible for today’s infrared cameras to perform many of the functions necessary to enable detailed observation and testing of high speed events. As such, it is useful to review the usage of the camera including the effects of variable exposure times, full and sub-window frame rates, dynamic range expansion and event triggering.
3.1 Short exposure times
Selecting the best integration time is usually a compromise between eliminating any motion blur and capturing sufficient energy to produce the desired thermal image. Typically, most objects radiate sufficient energy during short intervals to still produce a very high quality thermal image. The exposure time can be increased to integrate more of the radiated energy until a saturation level is reached, usually several milliseconds. On the other hand, for moving objects or dynamic events, the exposure time must be kept as short as possible to remove motion blur.
Tires running on a dynamometer can be imaged by a high speed infrared camera to determine the thermal heating effects due to simulated braking and cornering.
One relevant application is the study of the thermal characteristics of tires in motion. In this application, by observing tires running at speeds in excess of 150 mph with a high speed infrared camera, researchers can capture detailed temperature data during dynamic tire testing to simulate the loads associated with turning and braking the vehicle. Temperature distributions on the tire can indicate potential problem areas and safety concerns that require redesign. In this application, the exposure time for the infrared camera needs to be sufficiently short in order to remove motion blur that would reduce the resulting spatial resolution of the image sequence. For a desired tire resolution of 5mm, the desired maximum exposure time can be calculated from the geometry of the tire, its size and location with respect to the camera, and with the field-of-view of the infrared lens. The exposure time necessary is determined to be shorter than 28 microseconds. Using a Planck’s calculator, one can calculate the signal that would be obtained by the infrared camera adjusted withspecific F-number optics. The result indicates that for an object temperature estimated to be 80°C, an LWIR infrared camera will deliver a signal having 34% of the well-fill, while a MWIR camera will deliver a signal having only 6% well fill. The LWIR camera would be ideal for this tire testing application. The MWIR camera would not perform as well since the signal output in the MW band is much lower requiring either a longer exposure time or other changes in the geometry and resolution of the set-up.
The infrared camera response from imaging a thermal object can be predicted based on the black body characteristics of the object under observation, Planck’s law for blackbodies, as well as the detector’s responsivity, exposure time, atmospheric and lens transmissivity.
3.2 Variable frame rates for full frame images and sub-windowing
While standard speed infrared cameras normally deliver images at 30 frames/second (with an integration time of 10 ms or longer), high speed infrared cameras are able to deliver many more frames per second. The maximum frame rate for imaging the entire camera array is limited by the exposure time used and the camera’s pixel clock frequency. Typically, a 320×256 camera will deliver up to 275 frames/second (for exposure times shorter than 500 microseconds); a 640×512 camera will deliver up to 120 frames/second (for exposure times shorter than 3ms).
The high frame rate capability is highly desirable in many applications when the event occurs in a short amount of time. One example is in airbag deployment testing where the effectiveness and safety are evaluated in order to make design changes that may improve performance. A high speed infrared camera reveals the thermal distribution during the 20-30 ms period of airbag deployment. As a result of the testing, airbag manufacturers have made changes to their designs including the inflation time, fold patterns, tear patterns and inflation volume. Had a standard IR camera been used, it may have only delivered 1 or 2 frames during the initial deployment, and the images would be blurry because the bag would be in motion during the long exposure time.
Airbag effectiveness testing has resulted in the need to make design changes to improve performance. A high speed infrared camera reveals the thermal distribution during the 20-30ms period of airbag deployment. As a result of the testing, airbag manufacturers have made changes to their designs including the inflation time, fold patterns, tear patterns and inflation volume.
Even higher frame rates can be achieved by outputting only portions of the camera’s detector array. This is ideal when there are smaller areas of interest in the field-of-view. By observing just “sub-windows” having fewer pixels than the full frame, the frame rates can be increased. Some infrared cameras have minimum sub-window sizes. Commonly, a 320×256 camera has a minimum sub-window size of 64×2 and will output these sub-frames at almost 35Khz, a 640×512 camera has a minimum sub-window size of 128×1 and will output these sub-frame at faster than 3Khz.