Miniature Cryogenic Shutter Assembly

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CRANE-83845
Infrared cameras are used in many situations for imaging heat, either temperature or intensity. When an image sensor in a camera is cooled it becomes much more sensitive. So sensitive, that the camera can see very faint sources of heat, such as in space, or so that the camera can distinguish very small differences in temperature. These cameras are known as cryogenic or cooled cameras. The dynamic range can be further amplified which increases the cameras ability to see very cold and very hot objects, simultaneously, without getting "blinded." This is accomplished by using a technique called super-framing, in which the camera overlays multiple images in real time. In order to obtain optimal images when performing real-time, super-framing, the picture sequence must begin with a "black" image. The cryogenic shutter allows the camera to easily take this "black" or zero radiance image, which allows the camera to perform an absolute measurement calibration.

The key challenge in developing this innovative shutter was design restrictions. The shutter must fit into a very tight space inside the camera, on the cooled sensor assembly, and has to be able to function mechanically in a very low temperature environment. This shutter assembly allows the smaller and medium format cameras to perform the super-imaging tasks that previously could only be done by larger and more expensive cameras.

Advantages:
- Zero radiance referencing, enabling real-time super-framed imaging
- Compatible with standard format Dewar used in all small and medium size cooled cameras.
- Can be installed after-market in existing cameras, or can be easily added by the manufacturer

Potential Applications:
- Research
- Military
- Testing equipment
- Space applications
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Utility Patent
United States
6,995,359
(None)
Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization
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