Matter & Energy

Matter is composed of atoms or groups of atoms called molecules. The arrangement of particles in a material depends on the physical state of the substance. In a solid, particles form a compact structure that resists flow. Particles in a liquid have more energy than those in a solid. They can flow past one another, but they remain close. Particles in a gas have the most energy. They move rapidly and are separated from one another by relatively large distances.

Infrared Radiation

Infrared Radiation, emission of energy as electromagnetic waves in the portion of the spectrum just beyond the limit of the red portion of visible radiation (see Electromagnetic Radiation). The wavelengths of infrared radiation are shorter than those of radio waves and longer than those of light waves. They range between approximately 10-6 and 10-3 (about 0.0004 and 0.04 in). Infrared radiation may be detected as heat, and instruments such as bolometers are used to detect it.

Infrared radiation is used to obtain pictures of distant objects obscured by atmospheric haze, because visible light is scattered by haze but infrared radiation is not. The detection of infrared radiation is used by astronomers to observe stars and nebulas that are invisible in ordinary light or that emit radiation in the infrared portion of the spectrum.

An opaque filter that admits only infrared radiation is used for very precise infrared photographs, but an ordinary orange or light-red filter, which will absorb blue and violet light, is usually sufficient for most infrared pictures. Developed about 1880, infrared photography has today become an important diagnostic tool in medical science as well as in agriculture and industry. Use of infrared techniques reveals pathogenic conditions that are not visible to the eye or recorded on X-ray plates. Remote sensing by means of aerial and orbital infrared photography has been used to monitor crop conditions and insect and disease damage to large agricultural areas, and to locate mineral deposits. In industry, infrared spectroscopy forms an increasingly important part of metal and alloy research, and infrared photography is used to monitor the quality of products.