Night Vision: How Does it Work?

All Starlight technology Night Vision Devices consist of several main parts: an objective lens, an eyepiece, a power supply and an image intensifier tube (Photocathode Tube). Night vision devices gather existing ambient light (starlight, moonlight or infra-red light) through the front lens. This light, which is made up of photons goes into a photocathode tube that changes the photons to electrons. The electrons are then amplified to a much greater number through an electrical and chemical process.The electrons are then hurled against a phosphorus screen that changes the amplified electrons back into visible light that you see through the eyepiece. The image will now be a clear green-hued amplified re-creation of the scene you were observing.

GEN 2+, CGT, HTP

It is primarily used by law enforcement or for professional applications. This is because the cost of a 2nd Gen. unit is approximately $500.00 to $1000.00 more then a 1st Gen. The main difference between a 1st and a 2nd generation unit is the addition of a micro-channel plate, commonly referred to as a MCP. The MCP works as an electron amplifier and is placed directly behind the photocathode. The MCP consists of millions of short parallel glass tubes. When the electrons pass through these short tubes, thousands more electrons are released. This extra process allows 2nd generation units to amplify the light many more times then 1st generation giving you a brighter and sharper image.

GEN 3, 3A, 3P

By adding a sensitive chemical, gallium arsenide to the photocathode a brighter and sharper image has been achieved over 2nd generation units. An ion barrier film was also added to increase tube life. 3rd Gen. provides the user with good to excellent low light performance.

GEN WPT

In ATNs continuing effort to supply their clients with cutting edge Night Vision solutions they are proud to introduce a new line of select units based on ATN White Phosphor Technology© (WPT™).

Studies show that nighttime scenes appear remarkably more natural in black and white versus the usual green. B&W provides clearer information about contrast, shapes and shadows. ATNs White Phosphor Technology© provides users with this natural B&W night vision image.

Operators that tested units that use ATN WPT™ reported a significantly better degree of detail, overall contrast, full moon similarity and range of shades. WPT™ provides more discriminating shades of intensity between white and black than between green and black resulting in better contrast and depth perception then when compared to green phosphor NVG’s.

The majority of the WPT™ performance characteristics are on par or better then the latest Gallium Arsenide based image intensifier tubes. WPT™ specifications include typical resolution of 68lp/mm (with some over 74lp/mm) and Signal-to-Noise figures as high as 25.

7 out of 10 users name WPT™ as a “Night Vision Preference” when compared with common green night vision, especially in an urban environment. “No lab testing needed on WPT™ – the depth perception is phenomenal and noticeably better than what I used in the past.” – SOF Operator K.

WPT™ is available now in limited quantities in a wide variety of systems such as ATN PVS14/6015 tactical monocular, ATN NVM-14 multifunctional pocket-scope/goggle, ATN NVG7 and ATN PS15 goggles, ATN ARES 4 and ATN ARES 6 rifle scopes and ATN PS28 Night Vision Clip-on.

Designed for Special Ops WPT™ is not a toy. If your life depends on your gear and you want to improve your operational effectiveness you should check it out.

GEN 4

4th Generation Gated/Filmless technology represents the biggest technological breakthrough in image intensification of the past 10 years. By removing the ion barrier film and “Gating” the system Gen 4 demonstrates substantial increases in target detection range and resolution, particularly at extremely low light levels.

The use of film less technology and auto-gated power supply in 4th generation image intensifiers result in:

  • Up to 100% improvement in photo response
  • Superb performance in extremely low light level (better S/N and EBI)
  • At least triple high light level resolution (a minimum of 36 lp/mm compared to 12 lp/mm)

4th Generation Gated/IIT

ATNs Autogated / Filmless inverting image intensifier tubes improve night operational effectiveness for users of night vision goggles and other night vision devices. The filmless micro channel plate provides a higher signal-tonoise ratio than standard 3rd Gen. IITs, resulting in better image quality under low-light conditions. An Autogated power supply further improves image resolution under high light conditions and a reduced halo effect that minimizes interference from bright light sources. The reduced Halo maximizes the effectiveness of the Night Vision device in dynamic lighting conditions such as those experienced, for example, in night operations in urban areas.

  • Photo Cathode type: Filmless GaAs
  • Resolution from 64 to 72 lp/mm
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 25 to 30
  • Autogated power Supply 10,000-hour tube life

With significant improvement in contrast level and in performance under all light conditions, 4th generation represents the top of the line performance in the night vision market.

Infrared Illuminators

All Starlight scopes need some light to amplify. This means that if you were in complete darkness you could not see. Due to this we have a built in infra-red illuminator (IRI) on all of our scopes. Basically what an IRI does is throw out a beam of infra-red light that is near invisible to the naked eye but your NVD can see it. This allows you to use your scope even in total darkness.

The IRI works like a flashlight and the distance you can see with it will be limited. We do use the most powerful eye-safe illuminator on the market. This allows our IRI to extend out to 100 yards However, because of the power at a short distance the IRI may cover only 40-60% of the viewing area.

Source: ATN

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4 Responses to “Night Vision: How Does it Work?”

  1. Avatar

    Jerry Nicas Jr

    As used while in my military days, these night vision binoculars and rifle scopes have made extremely advancements and are extremely useful and necessary. Likewise, night time predator identification to protect your livestock and pets.. These night vision equipment are necessary and critical.. I highly recommend every livestock farmer, pet owner, and soldier, have one .

    Reply
  2. Avatar

    Barry Cottrell

    The most informative explanation of night vision technology I have read. Great Job 👍🏻🇺🇸

    Reply
  3. Avatar

    David Adams

    This would really help my Hunt

    Reply
  4. Avatar

    BRM

    Excellent article that really helps to explain the differences. NV technology varies widely, and this informative article is a great quick read to help anyone try to understand the differences. To really become a “must read”, some comparison pictures of the same objects at varying distances and ambient lighting through all the available generations would be superb.

    Reply