Photonic Mast

Enhanced Capability For Photonic Mast Using Short Wave Infrared (SWIR)

The photonic mast of a modern submarine offer imaging and detection in multiple portions of the spectrum. One important, untapped capability is imagining in the short wave infrared (SWIR) portion of the spectrum. For example, visible imagers frequently are unable to see through haze, fog, smoke, and dust whereas the longer wavelengths of the short wave infrared typically penetrate more easily. In such conditions, short wave infrared cameras consistently provide superior imaging.

An important distinction for SWIR is that it sees in reflected light, not thermal emissions. The short wave infrared name is somewhat misleading in that regard. Thus sensors that operate in the mid wave MWIR and long wave LWIR portions of the spectrum see thermal emissions from other objects on or above the ocean surface as long as there is a temperature differential between the object of interest and the surrounding environment. However, MWIR and LWIR sensors are typically unable to see important characteristics of naval targets, such as ships names or ships features. 

Many naval sensors suites include a MWIR sensor which provides a nice balance of detection by thermal energy but with shorter wavelengths to provide higher resolution. We see SWIR as a complimentary sensor in that it can see greater detail and actually recognize targets, including human targets where the combination of long range optics and high resolution SWIR imager allow individual people to be recognized.

This video shows the superior performance of SWIR cameras penetrating through fog and haze of the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

This video shows how a Sensors Unlimited SWIR camera penetrates through haze to reveal Berkely city landscape.

Many SWIR camera capabilities are considered sensitive. If you would like to learn more about SWIR capabilities for the military, you can register at a special web site, You must be a US Government employee or a USG contractor and be a US Citizen to access this site.