Archive for October 8th, 2008


It was not having a fun time.

It was not having a fun time.

Taking a few photos while walking between the bike racks and my class I noticed this large mushroom resting peacefully at the base of a eucalyptus tree. Then I saw the battle wounds it had suffered from what I assume was a rogue mushroom on a fungicidal rampage. Luckily this one was able to grow back in time.

I finally have a project, sort of, in the lab I am working in. I was wary of the idea of working there for the first week or so, but now that I have an actual project (and signed up for it officially) I am feeling better. In essence the professor received a long wave infrared bolometer from a local company and now he wants to do something with it. That is where I come in. Likely by working with some other undergraduates we are going to design, build and do something with this camera.

What is a bolometer, you may ask. A normal camera is made of silicon elements that when it is hit by visible light give off an electron. The electrons are then read off and from there the amount of light that hit the silicon elements is interpreted as pixels on the screen. A bolometer is sort of the same thing. Because long wave infrared light is not energetic enough to excite electrons each pixel element is instead a suspended piece of germanium with a thermistor (resistor that changes resistance with temperature) on it. The incoming light heats up the germanium element, the heat is converted to a voltage and the voltage converted into a reading of the incoming light. From there an image is created. They are very hard to make.

Now about the camera itself. It is set to work in the 8-15 micron range of wavelengths. It has a fixed 50mm lens with some unknown aperture. The minimum focal distance is around six feet, it is made to focus at much longer distances. It is roughly a .3 megapixel camera (the newer models are up to .6 megapixels). I have been told that it is expensive, no price, just expensive. This project should be fun.

I can’t wait until I can get a nice infrared portrait shot of myself.

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