Editorial Feature

Regional Spotlight: Infrared Sensors in Europe

By allowing humans to see beyond the visible light spectrum, infrared sensors have become incredibly useful in a wide rand of fields, and countries across Europe are capitalizing on this utility. 

Understanding why infrared sensors are so useful means taking a look at the electromagnetic spectrum. Human eyes have evolved to see the universe in a small slice of the electromagnetic spectrum which we define as visible light.

Looking beyond this can reveal a wealth of information usually unavailable in the visible light spectrum. Infrared light runs from wavelengths of around 700 nanometers (nm) to 1 millimeter (mm) just outside the visible light spectrum and possesses an even wider range of uses. 

This includes spectroscopy, which can be used to assess an object's chemical makeup, thus facilitating the detection of different compounds or even poisonous gases, the detection of heat from objects that can be used for motion sensors, and intruder alarms that can detect movement in dark environments lacking visible light, 

Infrared sensors (IR-sensors) have become integral to technology ranging from gas warning devices, gas analyzers, medical gas measurement technology, flame detectors, intruder alarms, and for collecting contactless precision thermometers. 

Image Credit: Quality Stock Arts/Shutterstock.com

What Are Infrared Sensors?

While IR sensors come in a range of forms, there are two major families of these devices. The first “Active IR sensors” are fairly simple, comprised of just two major components, a light-emitting diode (LED) and a receiver. The LED emits at infrared frequencies and this electromagnetic radiation reflects from target objects in proximity to the sensor that is picked up by the receiver. The way active IR sensors function makes them ideal for proximity sensors and object detection sensors that can be used in machines that have to move autonomously, such as self-driving vehicles and autonomous robots.

The other main form of IR sensors is known as “Passive infrared detectors (PIR)” which are more complicated than active sensors in design. PIRs are comprised of strips of pyroelectric material that make up a pyroelectric sensor composed, a filter that blocks out all wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation other than infrared, and a light-focusing fresnel lens that focuses infrared light from multiple angles into a single point. 

PIR tech is primarily used for motion detection and security systems. This is because they can measure infrared light from an object at different times and then distinguish differences in emitted levels as that object moves, sending a signal to an onboard computer that triggers an alarm. 

Of course, this is a microcosm of applications for infrared sensors, with these devices found in everything from phones to wearable electronics, to weather satellites. And that huge range of applications is something that has made IR sensors a huge global market.

Infrared Sensors Across the Globe and in Europe

According to a recent report from the IMARC Group¹, the global infrared imaging market size reached $ 6.5 Billion USD in 2022 and the market is projected to reach $ 9.7 Billion USD by 2028, which is a growth rate (CAGR) of 6.7% for the next five years.

North America has the largest share of the IR sensor market currently as a result of the high demand for these devices in security and with this technology accounting for major military expenditure. As a result of these devices being increasingly used by the automotive industry, AsiaPacific is currently the fastest-growing market for this technology².

That does not mean Europe is to be discounted in the global IR sensor market, however. Several major developments have occurred recently that could majorly boost IR sensor technology and market growth in Europe, with the region currently showing a medium growth rate in this technology².

IR Sensors and Child Presence Detection 

As mentioned above, the automotive industry is a major driver of the IR sensor market, and is certainly true in Europe. In 2019 the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP)³ announced that car manufacturers who implement Child Presence Detection as a standard feature in new vehicles beginning in 2022 would be compensated. 

Child Presence Detection systems detect when a child is left alone in a car and can alert either the owner or the emergency services. They can help avoid cases of children developing heatstroke when left in an unattended car. 

These systems work predominantly using near-IR sensors; thus, the move, made as part of the NCAP 2025 roadmap, boosted the impetus for producing these sensors and the desire for such devices as integral elements of this reward scheme.

Infrared Sensors in Europe Get HEROIC

In January of 2023, a global infrared detector provider Lynred, who supplies equipment to the aerospace, defense, and commercial markets, spearheaded an initiative called HEROIC (High-Efficiency Read-Out Integrated Circuit)⁴.

This four-year European Defence Fund project is aimed at developing highly-advanced electronic components for next-generation infrared (IR) sensors. The project involves a consortium of 10 partners throughout Europe and will have a budget of around $19.8 million USD, of which $18.8 million will come from the European Defence Fund. 

This is the first collaboration to bring together IR producers and research institutions — France’s CEA-Leti and Spain’s University of Seville (ES) — across Europe to address a common problem. This means increasing access to a new European-derived advanced CMOS technology that offers key capabilities for institutions and companies working on the next generations of high-performance infrared sensors.

Detecting Carbon Dioxide

Another major player in the infrared sensor market is carbon dioxide (CO2) detector manufacturers. With targets on the emission of this greenhouse gas set by government initiatives and regulating bodies measuring the concentration of CO2 has become vitally important.

Infrared sensors can be used to measure changes in temperature to measure CO2 concentration, with various companies across Europe and the global as a whole offering these devices. 

A report released by Market Research Future (MRFR)⁵ in March 2023 suggested that the global CO2 market could reach a value of 3.4 billion USD by the end of 2030. 

Why Size Matters for Infrared Gas Sensors?

References and Further Reading

Infrared Imaging Market: Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2023–2028 (2023)[Online] IMARC

INFRARED SENSOR MARKET SIZE & SHARE ANALYSIS — GROWTH TRENDS & FORECASTS (2023–2028), (2022) [Online] Mordor Intelligence, Available at: https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/infrared-sensor-market

Euro NCAP 2025 Roadmap, [Online] NCAP, Available at: https://cdn.euroncap.com/media/30700/euroncap-roadmap-2025-v4.pdf 

HEROIC, [Online] EDF, Available at: https://defence-industry-space.ec.europa.eu/system/files/2022-07/Factsheet_EDF21_HEROIC.pdf

Europe Advanced CO2 Sensor Market, (2023) [Online] MRFR, Available at: https://www.marketresearchfuture.com/reports/europe-advanced-co2-sensor-market-2574

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Robert Lea

Written by

Robert Lea

Robert is a Freelance Science Journalist with a STEM BSc. He specializes in Physics, Space, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Quantum Physics, and SciComm. Robert is an ABSW member, and aWCSJ 2019 and IOP Fellow.

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