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Light Detectors


Detectors of electromagnetic radiation in the spectral range from ultraviolet to far infrared are called light detectors. From the standpoint of a sensor designer, absorption of photons by a sensing material may result in either a quantum or thermal response. Therefore, all light detectors are divided into two major groups that are called quantum and thermal. The quantum detectors operate from the ultraviolet to mid-infrared spectral ranges, while thermal detectors are most useful in the mid- and far-infrared spectral ranges where their efficiency at room temperatures exceeds that of the quantum detectors. In this chapter, we cover both types. For description of highly sensitive photon sensors called photomultipliers refer to Sect. 15.1.


  • Thermal Radiation
  • Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor
  • Quantum Detector
  • Voltage Follower
  • Pyroelectric Sensor

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  1. 1.

    In 2009, Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith received a Nobel Prize for their invention of CCD in 1969.

  2. 2.

    Alloy of 80% nickel and 20% chromium has emissivity (absorptivity) over 0.80.

  3. 3.

    See Section 3.9.


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Fraden, J. (2010). Light Detectors. In: Handbook of Modern Sensors. Springer, New York, NY.

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