Night vision
Overview
 
Night vision is the ability to see in low light conditions. Whether by biological or technological means, night vision is made possible by a combination of two approaches: sufficient spectral range, and sufficient intensity range. Humans have poor night vision compared to many animals, in part because the human eye lacks a tapetum lucidum
Tapetum lucidum
The tapetum lucidum is a layer of tissue in the eye of many vertebrate animals....

.
Night-useful spectral range techniques can sense radiation that is invisible to a human observer.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Night vision is the ability to see in low light conditions. Whether by biological or technological means, night vision is made possible by a combination of two approaches: sufficient spectral range, and sufficient intensity range. Humans have poor night vision compared to many animals, in part because the human eye lacks a tapetum lucidum
Tapetum lucidum
The tapetum lucidum is a layer of tissue in the eye of many vertebrate animals....

.

Spectral range

Night-useful spectral range techniques can sense radiation that is invisible to a human observer. Human vision is confined to a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum
Electromagnetic spectrum
The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of all possible frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. The "electromagnetic spectrum" of an object is the characteristic distribution of electromagnetic radiation emitted or absorbed by that particular object....

 called visible light. Enhanced spectral range allows the viewer to take advantage of non-visible sources of electromagnetic radiation (such as near-infrared
Infrared
Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength longer than that of visible light, measured from the nominal edge of visible red light at 0.74 micrometres , and extending conventionally to 300 µm...

 or ultraviolet
Ultraviolet
Ultraviolet light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light, but longer than X-rays, in the range 10 nm to 400 nm, and energies from 3 eV to 124 eV...

 radiation). Some animals can see using much more of the infrared and/or ultraviolet spectrum than humans.

Intensity range

Sufficient intensity range is simply the ability to see with very small quantities of light.

Many animals have better night vision than humans do, the result of one or more differences in the morphology and anatomy of their eyes. These include having a larger eyeball, a larger lens, a larger optical aperture
Aperture
In optics, an aperture is a hole or an opening through which light travels. More specifically, the aperture of an optical system is the opening that determines the cone angle of a bundle of rays that come to a focus in the image plane. The aperture determines how collimated the admitted rays are,...

 (the pupils may expand to the physical limit of the eyelids), more rods than cones (or rods exclusively) in the retina
Retina
The vertebrate retina is a light-sensitive tissue lining the inner surface of the eye. The optics of the eye create an image of the visual world on the retina, which serves much the same function as the film in a camera. Light striking the retina initiates a cascade of chemical and electrical...

, and a tapetum lucidum
Tapetum lucidum
The tapetum lucidum is a layer of tissue in the eye of many vertebrate animals....

.

Enhanced intensity range is achieved via technological means through the use of an image intensifier
Image intensifier
An image intensifier tube is a vacuum tube device for increasing the intensity of available light in an optical system to allow use under low light conditions such as at night, to facilitate visual imaging of low-light processes such as fluorescence of materials to X-rays or gamma rays, or for...

, gain multiplication CCD
Charge-coupled device
A charge-coupled device is a device for the movement of electrical charge, usually from within the device to an area where the charge can be manipulated, for example conversion into a digital value. This is achieved by "shifting" the signals between stages within the device one at a time...

, or other very low-noise and high-sensitivity array of photodetector
Photodetector
Photosensors or photodetectors are sensors of light or other electromagnetic energy. There are several varieties:*Active pixel sensors are image sensors consisting of an integrated circuit that contains an array of pixel sensors, each pixel containing a both a light sensor and an active amplifier...

s.

Biological night vision

In biological night vision, molecules of rhodopsin
Rhodopsin
Rhodopsin, also known as visual purple, is a biological pigment of the retina that is responsible for both the formation of the photoreceptor cells and the first events in the perception of light. Rhodopsins belong to the G-protein coupled receptor family and are extremely sensitive to light,...

 in the rods
Rod cell
Rod cells, or rods, are photoreceptor cells in the retina of the eye that can function in less intense light than can the other type of visual photoreceptor, cone cells. Named for their cylindrical shape, rods are concentrated at the outer edges of the retina and are used in peripheral vision. On...

 of the eye
Human eye
The human eye is an organ which reacts to light for several purposes. As a conscious sense organ, the eye allows vision. Rod and cone cells in the retina allow conscious light perception and vision including color differentiation and the perception of depth...

 undergo a change in shape as they absorb light. Rhodopsin is the chemical that allows night-vision, and is extremely sensitive to light. Exposed to a spectrum of light, the pigment immediately bleaches, and it takes about 30 minutes to regenerate fully, but most of the adaptation
Adaptation (eye)
In ocular physiology, adaptation is the ability of the eye to adjust to various levels of darkness and light.-Efficacy:The human eye can function from very dark to very bright levels of light; its sensing capabilities reach across nine orders of magnitude. This means that the brightest and the...

 occurs within the first five or ten minutes in the dark. Rhodopsin in the human rods is less sensitive to the longer red wavelengths of light, so many people use red light to help preserve night vision as it only slowly depletes the eye's rhodopsin stores in the rods
Rod cell
Rod cells, or rods, are photoreceptor cells in the retina of the eye that can function in less intense light than can the other type of visual photoreceptor, cone cells. Named for their cylindrical shape, rods are concentrated at the outer edges of the retina and are used in peripheral vision. On...

 and instead is viewed by the cones
Cone cell
Cone cells, or cones, are photoreceptor cells in the retina of the eye that are responsible for color vision; they function best in relatively bright light, as opposed to rod cells that work better in dim light. If the retina is exposed to an intense visual stimulus, a negative afterimage will be...

.

Many animals have a tissue layer called the tapetum lucidum in the back of the eye
Eye
Eyes are organs that detect light and convert it into electro-chemical impulses in neurons. The simplest photoreceptors in conscious vision connect light to movement...

 that reflects light back through the retina
Retina
The vertebrate retina is a light-sensitive tissue lining the inner surface of the eye. The optics of the eye create an image of the visual world on the retina, which serves much the same function as the film in a camera. Light striking the retina initiates a cascade of chemical and electrical...

, increasing the amount of light available for it to capture. This is found in many nocturnal animals and some deep sea
Deep sea
The deep sea, or deep layer, is the lowest layer in the ocean, existing below the thermocline and above the seabed, at a depth of 1000 fathoms or more. Little or no light penetrates this part of the ocean and most of the organisms that live there rely for subsistence on falling organic matter...

 animals, and is the cause of eyeshine. Humans lack a tapetum lucidum.

Nocturnal mammals have rods with unique properties that make enhanced night vision possible. The nuclear pattern of their rods changes shortly after birth to become inverted. In contrast to contemporary rods, inverted rods have heterochromatin
Heterochromatin
Heterochromatin is a tightly packed form of DNA, which comes in different varieties. These varieties lie on a continuum between the two extremes of constitutive and facultative heterochromatin...

 in the center of their nuclei and euchromatin
Euchromatin
Euchromatin is a lightly packed form of chromatin that is rich in gene concentration, and is often under active transcription. Unlike heterochromatin, it is found in both cells with nuclei and cells without nuclei...

 and other transcription factors along the border. In addition, the outer nuclear layer
Outer nuclear layer
The outer nuclear layer , is one of the layers of the vertebrate retina, the light-detecting portion of the eye...

 (ONL) in nocturnal mammals is thick due to the millions of rods present to process the lower light intensities of a few photon
Photon
In physics, a photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of the electromagnetic interaction and the basic unit of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation. It is also the force carrier for the electromagnetic force...

s. Rather than being scattered, the light is passed to each nucleus individually. In fact, an animal's ability to see in low light levels may be similar to what humans see when using first- or perhaps second-generation image intensifier
Image intensifier
An image intensifier tube is a vacuum tube device for increasing the intensity of available light in an optical system to allow use under low light conditions such as at night, to facilitate visual imaging of low-light processes such as fluorescence of materials to X-rays or gamma rays, or for...

s.

A larger size of pupil relative to the rest of the eye, also aids night vision.

Night vision technologies

Night vision technologies can be broadly divided into three main categories:
Image intensification
Image intensification technologies work on the principle of magnifying the amount of received photons from various natural sources such as starlight
Starlight
Starlight refers to the visible radiation emitted by stars other than the Sun.Starlight may also refer to:-Comics:* Starlight , Dr...

 or moonlight. Examples of such technologies include night glasses and low light cameras.


Active illumination
Active illumination technologies work on the principle of coupling imaging intensification technology with an active source of illumination in the near infrared (NIR) or shortwave infrared (SWIR) band. Examples of such technologies include low light cameras.


Thermal imaging
Thermal imaging technologies work by detecting the temperature difference between the background and the foreground objects.

Night glasses

Night glasses are telescope
Telescope
A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation . The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 1600s , using glass lenses...

s or binoculars
Binoculars
Binoculars, field glasses or binocular telescopes are a pair of identical or mirror-symmetrical telescopes mounted side-by-side and aligned to point accurately in the same direction, allowing the viewer to use both eyes when viewing distant objects...

 with a large diameter objective. Large lenses can gather and concentrate light, thus intensifying light with purely optical means and enabling the user to see better in the dark than with the naked eye alone. Often night glasses also have a fairly large exit pupil
Exit pupil
In optics, the exit pupil is a virtual aperture in an optical system. Only rays which pass through this virtual aperture can exit the system. The exit pupil is the image of the aperture stop in the optics that follow it. In a telescope or compound microscope, this image is the image of the...

 of 7 mm or more to let all gathered light into the user's eye. However, many people can't take advantage of this because of the limited dilation of the human pupil
Pupil
The pupil is a hole located in the center of the iris of the eye that allows light to enter the retina. It appears black because most of the light entering the pupil is absorbed by the tissues inside the eye. In humans the pupil is round, but other species, such as some cats, have slit pupils. In...

. To overcome this, soldiers were sometimes issued atropine
Atropine
Atropine is a naturally occurring tropane alkaloid extracted from deadly nightshade , Jimson weed , mandrake and other plants of the family Solanaceae. It is a secondary metabolite of these plants and serves as a drug with a wide variety of effects...

 eye drops to dilate pupils. Before the introduction of image intensifiers, night glasses were the only method of night vision, and thus were widely utilized, especially at sea. Second World War era night glasses usually had a lens diameter of 56 mm or more with magnification of seven or eight. Major drawbacks of night glasses are their large size and weight.

Active infrared

Active infrared night vision combines infrared illumination of spectral range 700–1,000 nm (just below the visible spectrum of the human eye) with CCD
Charge-coupled device
A charge-coupled device is a device for the movement of electrical charge, usually from within the device to an area where the charge can be manipulated, for example conversion into a digital value. This is achieved by "shifting" the signals between stages within the device one at a time...

 cameras sensitive to this light. The resulting scene, which is apparently dark to a human observer, appears as a monochrome image on a normal display device.

Because active infrared night vision systems can incorporate illuminators that produce high levels of infrared light, the resulting images are typically higher resolution than other night vision technologies. Active infrared night vision is now commonly found in commercial, residential and government security applications, where it enables effective night time imaging under low light conditions. However, since active infrared light can be detected by night vision goggles, there can be a risk of giving away position in tactical military operations.

Laser range gated imaging

Laser range gated imaging is another form of active night vision which utilizes a high powered pulsed light source for illumination and imaging. Range gating is a technique which controls the laser pulses in conjunction with the shutter speed of the camera's detectors. Gated imaging technology can be divided into single shot, where the detector captures the image from a single light pulse to multi-shot, where the detector integrates the light pulses from multiple shots to form an image.

One of the key advantages of this technique is the ability to perform target recognition as opposed to detection with thermal imaging.

Thermal vision

Thermal imaging cameras are excellent tools for night vision. They detect thermal radiation
Thermal radiation
Thermal radiation is electromagnetic radiation generated by the thermal motion of charged particles in matter. All matter with a temperature greater than absolute zero emits thermal radiation....

 and do not need a source of illumination. They produce an image in the darkest of nights and can see through light fog, rain and smoke. Thermal imaging cameras make small temperature differences visible. Thermal imaging cameras are widely used to complement new or existing security networks.

Image intensifier

The image intensifier is a vacuum-tube based device that converts visible light from an image so that a dimly lit scene can be viewed by a camera or the naked eye. While many believe the light is "amplified," it is not. When light strikes a charged photocathode
Photocathode
A photocathode is a negatively charged electrode in a light detection device such as a photomultiplier or phototube that is coated with a photosensitive compound...

 plate, electrons are emitted through a vacuum tube that strike the microchannel plate that cause the image screen to illuminate with a picture in the same pattern as the light that strikes the photocathode, and is on a frequency that the human eye can see. This is much like a CRT
Cathode ray tube
The cathode ray tube is a vacuum tube containing an electron gun and a fluorescent screen used to view images. It has a means to accelerate and deflect the electron beam onto the fluorescent screen to create the images. The image may represent electrical waveforms , pictures , radar targets and...

 television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

, but instead of color guns the photocathode does the emitting.

The image is said to become "intensified" because the output visible light is brighter than the incoming IR light, and this effect directly relates to the difference in passive and active night vision goggles
Night vision goggles
A night vision device is an optical instrument that allows images to be produced in levels of light approaching total darkness. They are most often used by the military and law enforcement agencies, but are available to civilian users...

. Currently, the most popular image intensifier is the drop-in ANVIS module, though many other models and sizes are available at the market.

Night vision devices

A night vision device (NVD) is a device comprising an image intensifier tube in a rigid casing, commonly used by military forces. Lately, night vision technology has become more widely available for civilian use. For example, enhanced vision systems (EVS) have become available for aircraft to help pilots with situational awareness and avoid accidents. These systems are included in the latest avionics packages from manufacturers such as Cirrus
Cirrus
Cirrus may refer to:In science:*Cirrus cloud, a type of cloud*Cirrus , a German research rocket*Cirrus, a fleshy, downward extension of the upper lip in salamanders or fish*Cirrus, a thoracic limb of an adult barnacle...

 and Cessna
Cessna
The Cessna Aircraft Company is an airplane manufacturing corporation headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, USA. Their main products are general aviation aircraft. Although they are the most well known for their small, piston-powered aircraft, they also produce business jets. The company is a subsidiary...

.

A specific type of NVD, the night vision goggle (NVG) is a night vision device with dual eyepieces. The device can utilize either one intensifier tube with the same image sent to both eyes, or a separate image intensifier tube for each eye. Night vision goggle combined with magnification lenses constitutes night vision binoculars. Other types include monocular night vision devices with only one eyepiece which may be mounted to firearms as night sights. NVG and EVS technologies are becoming more popular products for helicopter operations to improve safety. The NTSB is considering EVS as recommended equipment for safety features.

See also

  • Thermographic camera
    Thermographic camera
    A thermographic camera or infrared camera is a device that forms an image using infrared radiation, similar to a common camera that forms an image using visible light...

  • Night operations (military)
    Night operations (military)
    Night operations are military activity performed in the very low light environments, typically at night. Due to restricted visibility, until recently night operations were among the most difficult for troops to perform tasks and carry out missions, and were rarely undertaken.The shinobi of feudal...

  • Low light level television

External links

  • Night Vision & Electronic Sensors Directorate - Fort Belvoir, Virginia
    Virginia
    The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK