A team of engineers at Tel Aviv University (Israel) has developed a system that allows humans to see colors in the infrared spectrum. We perceive colors in the visible spectrum – a very narrow band of frequencies that sits between ultraviolet radiation and infrared light. However, the Israeli system (which is mounted on a camera) makes the far infrared frequencies visible to our eyes. The main advantage of the development is that it makes available an opportunity, which usually requires rather expensive scientific equipment.
Visible light is only a tiny fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum, which also includes radio waves, microwaves, X-rays, and other types of radiation. Each of these parts of the spectrum contains a large amount of information about objects, which is “encoded” in colors that we cannot perceive with the naked eye.
The new device allows, for example, to take spectacular pictures of gases like hydrogen, carbon and sodium, each of which glows brightly in the infrared spectrum. Or take photographs of wildlife, which in infrared light looks completely unusual and alien. A more prosaic application of Israeli technology is cheap satellite surveillance systems. Satellites equipped with it will be able to see emissions of harmful substances from factories or find disguised depots of explosives and uranium.
Materials on the Israeli development were published in Laser & Photonics Reviews magazine.