Infrared radiation is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum that falls between visible light and invisible microwaves. It is a type of thermal radiation, which means it has heat-inducing properties. This type of radiation was discovered in 1800 by British astronomer William Herschel. He was able to separate the different components of sunlight using a glass prism and found that the temperature of the wavelengths beyond the red color were warmer than those in the red region.
IR is categorized as IR-A (760 to 780 nm), IR-B (1,432 to 1,334 nm) and IR-C or far-IR (3 um-1 mm). It is used for many applications including spectroscopy, thermal efficiency analysis, industrial facility inspections, remote temperature sensing, short-ranged wireless communication and weather forecasting.
It is a high-energy and less harmful form of energy than the shorter-wavelength Gamma, X-rays and ultraviolet light. It is a vital source of energy for the Earth, and its absorbed and emitted radiation has an important effect on the planet’s climate.
The shortest wavelength of an infrared wave is 0.7 microns, while the longest is 350 microns. These waves travel at a speed of 299,792,458 m.s-1.
They are not visible to the human eye and can be detected through a thermocouple or an infrared sensor. They are also used for communications as they are inexpensive, have low attenuation and can be easily transmitted over long distances.
Infrared can be used to measure the concentration of organic compounds and water. It has a useful “fingerprint” region from 8500 to 12,500 nm that can be used to identify certain types of molecules, such as alkenes and arenes. It is also an excellent tool for analyzing polymers and detecting protein synthesis.
It can also be used for astronomy to detect objects in space and view highly red-shifted objects from the early days of the universe. It is also used to penetrate dusty regions of space and view planets, star clusters and molecular clouds.
Some of the characteristics that distinguish infrared from other forms of electromagnetic radiation include its ability to act as a transverse wave, a property that causes it to bend when it strikes a substance. It is also a strong emitter of radiated heat, which makes it very effective in heating materials.
It is important to note that while infrared radiation can be absorbed by some substances, it can also be reflected by others, such as snow and aluminium foil. In addition, it has refraction properties that cause it to experience a slight change in direction as it moves from one medium to another.
Infrared spectra typically display only a small number of fundamental absorptions for individual bonded atoms and groups, which may be accompanied by multiple overlapping overtones due to the interactions of the atoms and bonds involved in the absorptions. The frequency at which a particular vibrational mode occurs will depend on the strength of the bonds and the mass of the atoms involved.
Infrared spectroscopy is used to study the chemical structure of many different kinds of compounds and is often used for quality control. It is also useful for separating dissolved solids from solution and in determining the identity of a molecule.