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Setting New Standards In Electro-Optical Testing

Blackbody Radiation, Working and Application


8 September, 2016

An object is deemed to be a perfect black body when it can absorb all amounts of the incoming light without reflecting any. At room temperature, it would appear perfectly black. At any specified temperature, the radiation a blackbody emits is the maximum possible amount at that given temperature. Diverse objects will radiate differently at different wavelengths and temperatures based on their unique emissivity.

A near estimation of a black surface is a hole located in a large enclosure wall. All light that enters the hole gets indefinitely reflected or absorbed inside, not likely to re-emerge, which makes the hole an almost perfect absorber.


Key Features 

In thermal equilibrium, it has two noteworthy properties: a perfect emitter and a diffuse emitter. Usually, a blackbody is composed of two parts that are linked via a cable:

1. Emissive head: this includes an emissive surface that is coated with a highly emissive cavity or coating. A precise temperature sensor implanted into the emissive cavity or surface that measures the source temperature in real time. Additionally, based on the temperature range, the emissive head is equipped with means of cooling and/or heating.

2. Electronic controller: powers the cooling/heating while recording and displaying the emissive surface temperature in real time. This component is equipped with precise servo control loop that assists in the regulation of high-stability temperature.


Blackbody Radiation Sources

Blackbody radiation sources are utilized in thermal imagers testing and calibrating. When the source has been incorporated as an element of an optical test bench automated testing using CI Systems Computerized Test Executive Software, it may be employed in determining the thermal imager operational characteristics, or Unit Under Test. 


In any given frequency range, the amount of radiation emitted ought to be proportional to the amount of modes in that particular range. The blackbody radiation level only depends on the temperature, well-known via the Planck’s law. In most cases, blackbodies are employed as optical sensors reference sources. A source that has a lower emissivity level independent of its frequency is in most cases, identified as a gray body.

Essentially, as the blackbodies temperatures values emitting over the observable range are extremely high (consequently being very expensive sources in contrast to classical lamps), the blackbodies are mainly preferred for usage over the infrared spectral range beginning from 1 µm. This is the reason why they are also referred to as Infrared Reference Sources.


Final Thoughts

There is a growing interest in materials with blackbody-like attributes for radar-absorbent and camouflage for enhanced radar invisibility. Additionally, such materials have been used as infrared thermal detectors and solar energy collectors. In addition, they are useful in cameras and telescopes as surfaces that are anti-reflective to reduce stray light, and for gathering information about objects located in areas of high-contrast where such materials will absorb the light coming from the unwanted or wrong sources.

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