Articles | Volume 4, issue 1
Special issue:
Feature article
02 Jun 2015
Feature article |  | 02 Jun 2015

Calibration of uncooled thermal infrared cameras

H. Budzier and G. Gerlach

Abstract. The calibration of uncooled thermal infrared (IR) cameras to absolute temperature measurement is a time-consuming, complicated process that significantly influences the cost of an IR camera. Temperature-measuring IR cameras display a temperature value for each pixel in the thermal image. Calibration is used to calculate a temperature-proportional output signal (IR or thermal image) from the measurement signal (raw image) taking into account all technical and physical properties of the IR camera. The paper will discuss the mathematical and physical principles of calibration, which are based on radiometric camera models. The individual stages of calibration will be presented. After start-up of the IR camera, the non-uniformity of the pixels is first corrected. This is done with a simple two-point correction. If the microbolometer array is not temperature-stabilized, then, in the next step the temperature dependence of the sensor parameters must be corrected. Ambient temperature changes are compensated for by the shutter correction. The final stage involves radiometric calibration, which establishes the relationship between pixel signal and target object temperature. Not all pixels of a microbolometer array are functional. There are also a number of defective, so-called "dead" pixels. The discovery of defective pixels is a multistep process that is carried out after each stage of the calibration process.

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