Sep 5, 2019

Infrared Emitters and Invisible “Light”

Category: Illumination, Automotive, Flash, Display

Infrared (IR) emitters enable unique capabilities including night vision, depth sensing and 3D imaging. Utilizing radiation that is beyond the visible red part of the spectrum, IR emitters bring expanded functions to everything from surveillance cameras to facial recognition. Here are five interesting things to know about infrared emitters and how they use invisible light:

  1. Since IR emissions are (nearly) invisible, their “brightness” or emission intensity is described by output power; the higher the output power, the greater the emitter’s range and detection distance. Viewing angle, which determines field-of-view, is also crucial.
  2. At 940 nm, LED emissions are invisible to the human eye and are sometimes called covert IR. Law enforcement and the military in particular, use IR for night vision enhancement to complement day/night cameras. IR emitters can illuminate the activity of people, aircraft and other objects in full darkness.
  3. Emissions from IR emitters at 850 nm are slightly visible (red dot) and used in remote controls, baby monitors, CCTV cameras, machine vision, iris/fingerprint recognition (biometrics) and eye-tracking for VR headsets. 
  4. More IR emitters are used in the surveillance industry than any other application. The IR emitter market is small relative to the LED illumination market, but is expected to grow rapidly, reaching an estimated $750 million by 2023 (CAGR of 14%) according to P&S Market Research.
  5. Automotive is another hot market for IR emitters. These emitters enable the detection of oncoming cars or objects in the vehicle rear. Interior applications, such as driver activity monitoring, are in the early stages of development for the next generation of vehicles.

To learn more about Lumileds LUXEON IR emitters, please visit: