The term infrared emitters could in principle be applied to any devices emitting infrared light. However, it is typically used for devices which are not lasers – in particular, to the following types of emitters:
- They can be infrared light emitting diodes (LEDs). The output power of those can be rapidly modulated, and that feature is frequently employed in remote control transmitters, for example. Typical output powers between a few milliwatts and hundreds of milliwatts, but emitters with multi-watt output are also available. The output can be somewhat directed, but not as much as with laser diodes. In terms of laser safety, infrared LEDs are less critical than lasers.
- Other devices are thermal emitters, i.e., they emit thermal radiation from some heated part. Some of them are special forms of incandescent lamps, sometimes in a very compact form, and may be used as broadband infrared light sources for applications in spectroscopy, for example, where the quite limited brightness is acceptable. Others are larger infrared heaters, sometimes with quite substantial heating powers, for applications in industrial fabrication or in laser printers, for example.
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