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Highly Sensitive MW and IR Radiometers


Development and Manufacturing of High-Sensitivity Microwave and Infrared Equipment for Rescue Operations During Disasters, Agriculture and Forensic Expertise

Tech Area / Field

  • INS-DET/Detection Devices/Instrumentation
  • PHY-RAW/Radiofrequency Waves/Physics

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Institute of Radiophysics and Electronics, Armenia, Ashtarak-2


  • Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain, Barcelona\nTufts University, USA, MA, Medford\nNational Technical University of Athens / Laboratory of Microwave and Fiber Optics, Greece, Athens\nDeutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. / Institut fuer Hochfrequenztechnik, Germany, Wessling\nCornell University, USA, NY, Ithaca

Project summary

This Project has the aim to develop new design principles of radiophysical equipment with improved operation characteristics, to manufacture prototypes and use them in rescue works during natural or other disasters, in agriculture, biotechnology, industry and forensic expertise. With this purpose, a significant improvement of electric parameters (sensitivity, stability, resolution power, etc.) is planned, as well as reduction of the equipment weight and dimensions and increase of reliability.

Although the level of modern electronics, data processing and measuring devices is high, there exist a number of problems in agriculture, food storage and treatment, as well as in technology, for which the achievements in these fields are used insufficiently. Very few modern equipment is used in various agricultural problems, such as monitoring of the crops development dynamics, fruit and vegetable maturity evaluation during storage, etc. Very limited are the methods and equipment used for rescue of people during natural disasters (earthquakes, landslides and snow avalanches), collapse of buildings caused by explosions, etc. Small number of devices are known, designed for express identification of various coatings and materials by their absorption or reflection of microwave (MW) and infrared (IR) radiation.

Methods and tools that are provided by modern science and technology, particularly by radiophysics, are still insufficiently applied to solution of the abovementioned problems.

Radiophysical methods represent powerful means for investigation and measurements by the equipment which significantly exceeds the currently used equipment in the measurement accuracy, sensitivity, resolution power and spectral characteristics.

As a results of natural disasters (landslides, snow avalanches, etc.) the people may remain under the snow, earth layer, or inside a limited space. Rescue operations use acoustical detection methods; a significant experience has been also accumulated to save the people by specially trained dogs. Meanwhile, detection of people by their proper thermal radiation may efficiently supply the existing methods and find broad practical application. To this end, one has to develop a highly sensitive receiver system (radiometer, supplied by antenna, power and data-processing units) which would be able to detect weak localized sources of thermal radiation against the background radiation of environment. To obtain the highest detection efficiency, it is advantageous to combine several radiometers in a single device, operating at various wavelengths, e.g. IR and MW radiometers. While the decimeter (DM) and centimeter (CM) wavelength radiometers provide subsurface sensing, the IR radiometers will provide high angular resolution of the image.

Most of the agricultural products (fruits and vegetables) have different absorption coefficients of IR emission. These coefficients vary significantly, depending on the maturity, and thus are indicative of the product state. By measurement of absorption (or reflection) coefficient one may monitor the growth dynamics of a plant, determine the time and dosage of fertilizers, as well as control the irrigation process. Optimization of agronomic measures will thus allow to increase the yield of products.

Highly significant for the economy is also the development of equipment which would monitor the state of agro products during storage, with the aim to determine the optimal storage conditions and terms. With this purpose it is necessary to develop high-sensitivity IR radiometers having stable parameters and designed to test the state of fruits by measurement of absorption (or reflection) coefficient. The same experiments require IR sources with extremely high temporal and temperature stability.

Application of highly sensitive IR radiometer and stable IR source will also solve the issue of manufacturing a device for identification of various outer coatings with almost unlimited resolution power. The device may be also used to analyze the quality of some agricultural products (honey, dairy, vegetable oil, etc.) and to measure the content of binary liquids without stopping the technological process, as well as to conduct forensic expertise.

Gained experience in development of special-purpose microwave power generators will be used in the Project to develop an apparatus for extraction of ester oil out of flower-herbal raw material by MW power. Traditional technology uses vapor distillation in room conditions. Meanwhile MW power, instead of vapor, will reduce the treatment time and losses and at the same time raise the oil yield and quality.

A number of practically important objectives will be reached as a result of this Project, related with human life activity, which also represent a significant R&D interest and will provide high economic effect:

– highly stable and sensitive MW and IR receivers will be developed;

– new principles for measurement of absorption and reflection parameters of various materials in the IR part of spectrum will be developed, in a broad range of values;
– new methods and devices for measurement of extremely low power of thermal sources will be created, for application in rescue operations during natural disasters;
– an apparatus for ester oil extraction from plants will be developed, based on using MW power;
– the relation between maturity of fruits and vegetables and their IR absorption (or reflection) coefficient will be established;
– IR absorption and reflection coefficient by various agricultural products will be analyzed;
– technical characteristics of the developed MW radiometers will be determined, for detection of weak thermal sources having terrestrial origin.

The Institute of Radiophysics & Electronic, in the structure of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences, during 35 years was one of the leading organizations in the USSR in the field of development of high-sensitivity radiometers, polarimeters, phasers, high-power oscillators and other microwave and hear-IR devices. The unique equipment was designed exclusively for classified military purposes, as well as far-distance space communication sites. Regular parameter measurements of large antenna systems using space radio sources were performed only by IRPhE specialists and by their developed equipment.

Theoretical and experimental researches and developments, having the aim to create highly sensitive MW and IR receivers and differential phase and amplitude meters of electromagnetic field, form an essential part of IRPhE activity. Multi-year experience of personnel, as well as the existing unique instruments and equipment may be successfully re-oriented to civil purposes. The proposed Project will efficiently use this research and technological potential.

It is anticipated that execution of the Project will make possible the development of new design principles for the measuring radio equipment and manufacture:

– high-sensitivity compact receiver system in the MW and IR parts of spectrum for analysis of natural thermal radiation;

– high-accuracy IR reflection and absorption meters, in a broad range of measured parameter;
– an apparatus for ester oil extraction from plants, providing significantly improved parameters of technological process and higher yield quality.

The sensitivity of microwave radiometer system is expected to reach 0.005 to 0.001 K, against the currently existing value 0.05 to 0.01 K, i.e. increase for an order of magnitude. The accuracy of absorption and reflection coefficient measurement will be increased for an order of magnitude, and at the same time the range of measurement will increase for two orders of magnitude.

Search of people under landslides and snow avalanches, as well as under earthquake debris; fruit and vegetable growth monitoring supplied by agro technical measures; obtaining of high-quality ester oil with minimal losses; and application of measuring equipment in industry for objective evaluation of the output products – all these objectives will provide great advantages related with human life, reduction of consequences caused by natural disasters and increase of agricultural yield amount and quality and ultimately contribute to increase of living standards for humanity.

Also the following objectives of ISTC Program will be reached:

– scientists and engineers earlier engaged in defense developments will be involved in a long-term professional activity aimed at high-priority civil problems;

– scientists and specialists will be integrated in the international research programs extremely important for human safety and well-being;
– a support will be provided to fundamental and applied researches, as well as technological developments having peaceful purposes, particularly in the environment protection and nutrition areas;
– the achievements in development of a special-purpose equipment will be expanded to include civil applications.

Project duration is 36 months, staring from its commencement date. The Project includes execution of the following 7 Tasks:

– development and manufacturing of a highly sensitive and portable Microwave Radiometer system for detection of weak thermal sources;

– development and manufacturing of a highly sensitive Infrared Radiometer system for detection of weak thermal sources;
– development and manufacturing of Absorption Meter in the IR part of spectrum;
– development and manufacturing of ester-oil Extractor out of flower-herbal raw material, using microwave power;
– testing the capacity of developed MW and IR Radiometer systems for detection of thermal radiation sources covered by absorbing layers (snow, earth, or clothing, etc.);
– analysis of IR reflection and absorption coefficients of various agricultural products (as a function of their maturity) and materials (content and surface quality);
– analysis of technological processes for ester oil extraction out of flower-herbal raw material, with the aim to develop an optimal technology providing minimal losses and high quality of the output product.

Interaction with Collaborator will help:

– to gain the latest information about similar developments in other countries;

– to find and establish contacts with the companies producing components for the equipment manufactured under this Project;
– to determine new application areas and prospects for developments;
– to disseminate and commercialize the Project results worldwide.

The principal methods to be used in the Project are active and passive sensing in MW and IR wavebands. They include processing of radio and optical emission received by the aperture of a measuring device. Signal power created by on ground thermal sources is extremely small. The radiometer output, meanwhile, includes a significant noise component generated by the receiver itself and by its environment. Therefore the measuring device should be able to detect a small increment of total power produced, say, by thermal radiation of a human being.

Certain problems of applied character may be solved more efficiently if active sensing method is used, based on illumination of an object and reception of reflected and/or transmitted component of that radiation. Particularly, the IR sensing will use highly stable transmitters and receivers to be developed under this Project, allowing to measure the absorption coefficient values up to 106 with high accuracy.

In this Project a high-power microwave source will be used for ester-oil extraction from plants. Traditional method uses overheated vapor, which makes impossible the plant treatment in field conditions. As a result, 20 to 30 percent of the ester-oil is lost due to late treatment. Meanwhile, application of MW power in field conditions, immediately after the plants are cut, will increase the yield and quality of product.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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