Infrared uses and applications requiring IR coated optics continue to ramp up in 2020 not only for surveillance and military markets but to help manage the spread of COVID-19 within small businesses, industrial operations, airports, and arenas.

This year has seen a sharp rise in the production and sales of handheld forehead thermometers and handheld IR cameras. Recently, Forbes posted an article helping people that need to source thermometers with reviews and pricing, all available on Amazon. Now used everywhere from hair salons to airports, these essential measurement tools are an everyday part of our culture.

Using the wavelengths just beyond the visible spectrum of light, IR has a lower frequency and longer wavelengths than visible light. This requires you to use additional tools to harness IR for any use at home and work.

How do IR tools work?

Every living being emits heat energy and the warmer the temperature, the more IR energy it will emit. IR imaging has been used by the military and in security cameras for years as it is not affected by dust, environmental temperature, wind, or smoke. An image is produced by converting the wavelengths to an electronic signal which creates a thermal signal when focused by the lens onto an IR sensor. This type of handheld camera is sold everywhere from specialty manufacturers such as FLIR and distributors such as Grainger and Allied Electronics.

Typically cameras utilize mid-wave infrared (MWIR) or long-wave infrared (LWIR) wavelengths. With the simple addition of a camera adapter, iPhones and Android devices can also be equipped for infrared use to view images at 8-14 um. As we continue to live with the COVID virus, many immune suppressed people may prefer to know the temperature of the people around them.

Common considerations and IR materials

Typically, AccuCoat works within the 3-5 micron and 8-12 micron range for coatings for IR and we can coat up to 15 microns if required for your particular application. Many substrate materials are used for IR work; however, Germanium, Silicon, Zinc Selenide, ClearTran, and Chalcogenide are the most frequently utilized for optics manufacturing. Each material offers a different price point and best application use. If you are not certain if your material is recommended for best coating performance, our engineers are here to assist you with that decision.

With standard multilayer AR coatings for IR in the 3-5 micron range and multilayer AR coating in the 8-12 micron range, you can use either standard or a fully custom-designed coating for your application.

Because AccuCoat has the proven processes and customized tooling for coating parts as small as 5 mm, we can support the development, design, and volume coating of IR optics destined for phones, cameras, lenses, and thermometers.

If you are looking for more in-depth information on this topic, please read our upcoming White Paper on IR Coating Applications.