Typically we define near infrared (NIR) from 780 nm to 1400 nm and shortwave infrared (SWIR) from 1400 nm to 3000 nm. But it is also common to refer to the entire range from 780 nm up to 3000 nm as NIR or SWIR.
The NIR/SWIR region has multiple advantages, and some of the most well-known ones are discussed below.
NIR and SWIR wavelengths aren’t visible to human eyes and have less energy than UV and visible wavelengths, but the light still interacts with objects. So in the case of NIR/SWIR imaging, we can capture images of objects and see aspects that we couldn’t see in the visual range.
In addition, longer wavelengths can be used to look through plastic packaging and silicon, providing another method for nondestructive testing.
Silicon wafer: (Left) Visible image, (Right) SWIR image.
Water content measurement
Water has a high absorption rate at 1450 nm and 1900 nm, making it easy to detect areas with high water density using NIR/SWIR.
Example application: Food quality sorting
Identifying contaminants (stones) in coffee beans
SWIR has the capability to detect heat even though it’s not as sensitive as MWIR (midwave infrared) and LWIR (longwave infrared), which can detect low temperatures. Unlike MWIR and LWIR imaging that blur the contours of objects in an image, SWIR imaging produces clearly defined images with added temperature information, allowing the detection of hot spots in a scene or object.
Example application: Process control
Between 780-2500 nm, substances such as plastic, organic compounds, and non-organic compounds can be easily differentiated, which is hard to do in the visible range. Hyperspectral SWIR imaging can provide detailed information about an object based on its infrared spectrum.
Example of hyperspectral imaging
Different plastic types: (Left) Visible image, (Right) After hyperspectral imaging.
Albert Tu is a marketing engineer working on NIR/SWIR applications. He’s been helping customers find the right solution for their technology, and he’s developing new business by exploring potential technologies. Albert’s experience in high-tech industry and startups allows him to identify the need first and to find the right solution to solve it. Recently, he enjoys cooking in his spare time and likes to try out new recipes.
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