Infrared Cameras

SPILAB's first cryo-cooled infrared camera was the miniature infrared camera (MIRCAM) shown below with its 48 mm lens. The camera was also delivered with a wide angle, 28 mm lens. MIRCAM uses a 320 x 288 pixel, mercury cadmium telluride (MCT) detector array developed by AIM. The detector is cooled to 74K using a linear displacement, stirling cycle engine. The electronics were developed in cooperation with Penn Semiconductor to enable a camera link format image to be captured by the VME electronics that still exist in the 1970's vintage F-16 fighter planes.

MIRCAM camera

MIRCAM with 48 mm lens


Pilot view of the Moon

The Air Force required us to develop an overlay menu that would enable the pilot to view images through a camera control panel controlled by his joystick. At left is shown a view of the moon through the control panel.


The user can also switch between the pilot view control panel and a laboratory control panel with more features and a pixel intensity map displayed below the real-time image. This simplifies camera set-up and calibration.



MIRCAM: Hand and Hot Cup at 2msec 48mm

MIRCAM: Hot cup with cold hand print

MIRCAM: Moon at 2msec 48mm Infinity

MIRCAM: Handprint on chair

The sensitivity of the camera is apparent from the two images on the left (hot is white and cold is black). A cold hand print is made on a hot cup; the hot imprint remains on the hand after it is removed. Likewise a warm hand print is made on the back of a cold chair.








MIRCAM: Moon at 2msec 48mm Infinity

MIRCAM: Soldering iron

MIRCAM: Moon at 2msec 48mm Infinity

MIRCAM: Portrait

The dynamic range of the detector and resolution of the optics are demonstrated with the image of the hot soldering iron. The hot image does not bloom to adjacent pixels, which is ideal for tracking hot missile plumes. The structure of the soldering iron is visible and sharp, without blurring. The portrait image shows the contrast between the cold glasses and the warm skin. The fine thread structure of the shirt and the hair are also visible.