18 July 2012

Lights, [Sensors], Action!

{Photo from: http://bit.ly/Q5LIMb}
Light is a concept that starts off being really simple to understand as a child, and then slowly grows to be something that is much more than meets the eye (literally).

Being a new hire at Apogee, there are a lot of cool sensors and instruments to get familiar with. They range in form and function, as well as by what they measure and how they're used. What many of them have in common is that they measure electromagnetic radiation.

Refresher course: Everything we see is caused by a small slice of electromagnetic radiation. We see electromagnetic radiation between the wavelengths of about 400 and 700 nm, and our eye perceives the different wavelengths in that range as a rainbow of colors. All the colors we see are called visible light. Shortwave radiation includes everything in that visible range, along with some infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths. All light, whether visible or not, is electromagnetic radiation.

I’m amazed that measuring specific ranges of light can be so informative. Just as humans only see a small portion of all the possible wavelengths, other applications only see or use a specific range as well. Apogee makes sensors that measure certain ranges of radiation that when correctly measured, can be used to infer a great deal about the world around us. As an example, here are a few of our light-measuring products, and some of their possible applications:

  • Ultraviolet sensors - Measures UV radiation in the range of 250 to 400 nm. 
    • Germicide lamps
    • UV blocking materials testing
    • Solar UV monitoring 
  • Quantum sensors - Counts photons in the photosynthetically active range (400 to 700 nm). 
    • Photosynthetic Photon Flux (PPF) measurements (total available photons for photosynthesis)
    • Aquarium lighting optimization 
  • Pyranometers - Measures shortwave radiation between in the range of about 300 to 1100 nm.
    • Evapotranspiration rates
    • Routine meteorological observations on weather stations (statistical data)
    • Solar panel efficiency testing
    • Energy efficient home automation systems
    • Measuring thickness of certain membranes
  • Infrared radiometers - Measures the infrared radiation (temperature) emitted from surfaces.
    • Plant canopy temperature monitoring
    • Surface temperature of water bodies
    • Road temperature for icy condition detection
    • Avalanche forecasting 

At Apogee, we are continually working to improve our existing radiation sensors, as well as develop new products for light measurement. Check back soon for new product announcements. If you are using our sensors for something unique, or if you have a specific idea or request, let us know.

With the right equipment, light can be much more than something we take for granted. Light measurements can be used to improve agricultural processes, increase technological efficiency, and facilitate environmental safety. Making quality sensors is just one way that Apogee is helping the world make better [light] measurements.


Ryan Lindsley

Mechanical Engineer

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