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What Is NETD? | Pulsar Vision UK & ROI
Exclusive UK & ROI Pulsar Distributor

NETD (or Noise Equivalent Temperature Difference), which is measured in millikelvin (mK), is one of the most important parameters when it comes to the quality of a thermal imaging device, denoting when the temperature value signal is equal to the noise signal.

A thermal imaging device registers signal and noise, the latter of which can be detrimental its picture quality. When a device registers a noise signal equal to the smallest detectable temperature difference it is not able to discern a useful thermal signal to produce a high quality image of the object. Thus, the higher the noise level, the higher the NETD level, and the worse its ability to discern small temperature differences.

This means that when the temperature of an observed object drops low enough, its heat signature may merge with noise in such a way that the thermal imaging device is unable to differentiate between the object’s signal and noise. This results in a scene in which the background and observed objects merge and become practically indistinguishable from one another. The lower the NETD value of a thermal imager, the better the sensor’s ability to register small temperature differences.

Pulsar devices are available with varying NETD ratings, this quick chart should allow you to gain an understanding of the image quality each rating is capable of achieving.

  • <40 mK (Excellent)
  • <50 mK (Good)
  • <60 mK (Acceptable)
  • <80 mK (Satisfactory)

A thermal imaging device with a lower NETD value will achieve better image quality with greater levels of visual information, more contrast, and better visibility in conditions with minimal temperature differences, such as cold weather, heavy rain, or dense fog).

When a device’s NETD rating is being measured, the black body is set to a specific temperature and a series of frames are taken over a predefined duration. These frames are then used to generate a histogram of each of the pixel values. The subsequent NETD rating is determined through the standard deviation of this histogram converted into millikelvin.

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