Night Vision Generations

NIGHT VISION GENERATIONS IN SUMMARY

The key difference between the night vision generations is the intensifier technology. Gen1 was first developed in the Vietnam area, and is recognized as the now entry level into night vision devices. Gen1 devices use an intensifier tube that amplifies ambient light by accelerating electrons and striking a green phosphorus surface (just like a television). Gen1 used under optimal conditions give you 75-100 yds visibility. Gen2 devices have added a micro-channel plate that multiplies the number of electrons before they make contact on the phosphorus screen (thus increasing clarity, quality and brightness). Gen2 devices can come in white or green phosphorus variants. The white phosphorus typically run more, as they provide enhanced clarity, as well as lower eye fatigue. Gen2 devices under optical conditions can expect visibility in 150-200 yds. Gen3 is currently what the US Military uses and have added a Gallium Arsenide photocathode which creates significantly more photoelectrons than Gen2 devices and is more efficient at amplifying existing light or IR illumination. Gen3 devices are significantly brighter and better in optical clarity than other generations and under optimal conditions allow visibility out to 350-400 yds. Lastly, Digital Night Vision was released in the early 2000’s, as it plays on same principal as your NV modes on digital cameras. Digital NV uses CCD (charged coupling devices) to process light prior to sending to an LCD (liquid crystal display) image. Utilizing this technology, Digital NV is not damaged by large amount of natural light and are able to be used in both night and day. As with most technology Digital NV has offered a significant bang for your buck, as it is typically cost comparative to Gen1 devices, but offers resolution and clarity of a Gen2 device.

Detailed Description

 

A Night Vision Device can be either a 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th generation unit. Get the facts on all the latest night vision generations and what they mean below.

 

1st generation is currently the most popular type of night vision in the world. Utilizing the basic principles described earlier, a 1st generation unit will amplify the existing light several thousand times letting you clearly see in the dark. These units provide a bright and sharp image at a low cost, which is perfect, whether you are boating, observing wildlife, or providing security for your home. You may notice the following when you are looking through a 1st Gen. unit.

  1. A slight high-pitched whine when the unit is on.

  2. The image you see may be slightly blurry around the edges. This is known as Geometric Distortion.

  3. When you turn a 1st Gen. unit off it may glow green for some time.

  4. These are inherent characteristics of a 1st Gen. unit and are normal.

 

2nd generation 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.

 

2nd Gen. IIT ATNs standard 2nd generation tubes are high quality with exceptional brightness and resolution. Each tube has a micro channel plate, multi-alkaline photocathode with built-in power supply.

2nd Gen. IIT Features:

  1. Photo Cathode type: Multi-Alkali

  2. Resolution from 40 to 45 lp/mm

  3. Signal-to-Noise Ratio from 12 to 20

  4. 5,000+ hour tube life

 

CGT IIT The CGT type of Image Intensifier tubes are engineered for significantly enhanced performance over current 2nd generation IITs. The CGT IIT is a Multi-Alkali compact 18mm format MCP Image Intensifier. Highlights of the CGT specifications are typical SNR of 16-22 and resolution of 45-54 lp/mm. CGT IITs are sensitive in a wide spectral band and thus provide good contrast in all scene circumstances.

CGT IIT Features:

  1. Photo Cathode type: Multi-Alkali

  2. Resolution from 45 to 54 lp/mm

  3. Signal-to-Noise Ratio from 16 to 22

  4. 10,000-hour tube life

 

HPT IIT HPT tubes are an upgrade of the CGT Generation tube. They are a Multi-Alkali compact 18mm format MCP Image Intensifier. The HPT tube increases sensitivity, resolution, Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR), and the Modulation Transfer Function (MTF). These improvements produce an exceptional image clarity and brightness. Most HPT specifications typically are equivalent to standard 3rd generation. Highlights of the HPT specifications are the typical SNR of 22 and resolution of 64 lp/mm.

HPT IIT Features:

  1. Photo Cathode type: Multi-Alkali

  2. Resolution from 55 to 72 lp/mm

  3. Signal-to-Noise Ratio from 16 to 24

  4. 10,000-hour tube life

 

3rd generation 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.

 

3rd Gen. Standard IIT Our standard 3rd generation image intensifier tubes are of the highest quality. They have a micro channel plate, GaAs photocathode, and a completely self-contained integral high-voltage power supply. These 3rd Generation tubes provide a combined increase in resolution, signal to noise and photosensitivity over tubes with a multi-alkali photocathode. Generation 3 is the standard for the USA military.

3rd Gen. Standard IIT Features:

  1. Photo Cathode type: Gallium Arsenide

  2. Resolution 64 lp/mm

  3. Signal-to-Noise Ratio 22 Typical

  4. 10,000-hour tube life

 

3A Gen. Premium select IIT Our 3A Gen. Premium select IITs are the highest quality of our generation 3 IITs. These IITs are hand picked to provide the highest quality and specifications available in our 3rd Gen. line. They have a micro channel plate, GaAs photocathode, and a completely self-contained integral high-voltage power supply.

3A Gen. Premium select IIT Features:

  1. Photo Cathode type: Thin Film GaAs

  2. Resolution from 64 to 72 lp/mm

  3. Signal-to-Noise Ratio 26 Typical

  4. 10,000-hour tube life

 

3P Gen. ITT Pinnacle™ ATN Night Vision units with the 3P designation use ITT Pinnacle™ Image Intensifier tubes. The industry leading ITT Pinnacle™ image tubes utilize a gated power supply providing truly outstanding performance in high-light or light-polluted areas, such as urban environments. The Pinnacle™ tube with gated power supply minimizes any “halo” effects. “Halo” is often associated with using night vision devices in an urban area where random street lights are often an issue with early Generation Night Vision devices. Night Vision units with Pinnacle™ tubes have a resolution of 64-72lp/mm and a typical signal to noise ratio of 26. All Night Vision devices utilizing Pinnacle™ Image Intensifier tubes come with ITT data record sheet. Units with Pinnacle™ tubes are not available for export. A signed export compliance and end use statement is required prior to shipping of these units.

*Pinnacle is a registered trademark of ITT Night Vision

3P Gen. ITT Pinnacle™ IIT Features:

  1. Photo Cathode type: Gallium Arsenide

  2. Resolution from 64 to 72 lp/mm

  3. Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 25-30

  4. 10,000-hour tube life

 

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:

  1. Up to 100% improvement in photo response.

  2. Superb performance in extremely low light level (better S/N and EBI).

  3. At least triple high light level resolution (a minimum of 36 lp/mm compared to 12 lp/mm).

 

4th GEN. GATED/FILMLESS 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.

4th Gen. IIT Features:

  1. Photo Cathode type: Filmless GaAs

  2. Resolution from 64 to 72 lp/mm

  3. Signal-to-Noise Ratio from 25 to 30

  4. Autogated power Supply

  5. 10,000-hour tube life

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

 

GENERATION 1   GENERATION 2   GENERATION 3   GENERATION 4

 

2nd Gen + (2I) IIT ATNs standard 2nd generation tubes are high quality with exceptional brightness and resolution. Each tube has a micro channel plate, multi-alkaline photocathode with built-in power supply.

2I IIT Features:

  1. Photo Cathode type: Multi-Alkali

  2. Resolution from 40 to 45 lp/mm

  3. Signal-to-Noise Ratio from 14 to 18

  4. 5,000+ hour tube life

 

2nd Gen + (2IA) IIT ATNs 2nd generation + (2IA) tubes are high quality with exceptional brightness and resolution. Each tube has a micro channel plate, multi-alkaline photocathode with built-in power supply. The 2IA tubes are hand picked for additional performance with less cosmetics over the standard 2I IITs.

2IA IIT Features:

  1. Photo Cathode type: Multi-Alkali

  2. Resolution from 40 to 50 lp/mm

  3. Signal-to-Noise Ratio from 14 to 20

  4. 5,000+ hour tube life

 

CGTI IIT The CGTI type of Image Intensifier are engineered for significantly enhanced performance over current 2nd generation IITs. The CGTI IIT is a Multi-Alkali compact 18mm format MCP Image Intensifier. Highlights of the CGTI specifications are the typical SNR of 15-22 and a resolution of 45-54 lp/mm. CGTI IITs are sensitive in a wide spectral band and thus provide good contrast in all scene circumstances

CGTI IIT Features:

  1. Photo Cathode type: Multi-Alkali

  2. Resolution from 45 to 54 lp/mm

  3. Signal-to-Noise Ratio from 15 to 22

  4. 10,000-hour tube life

 

HPTI FOM 1250 IIT HPTI tubes are an upgrade of the CGT Generation tube. They are a Multi-Alkali compact 18mm format MCP Image Intensifier. The HPTI tube increases sensitivity, resolution, Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR), and the Modulation Transfer Function (MTF). These improvements produce an exceptional image clarity and brightness. Most HPTI specifications typically are equivalent or exceed standard 3rd generation. Highlights of the HPTI specifications are the typical SNR of 18-24 and resolution of 51-64 lp/mm. These tubes are designed to give optimal performance while being in compliance with the FOM 1250 requirement. State Department export license required.

HPTI IIT Features:

  1. Photo Cathode type: Multi-Alkali

  2. Resolution from 51 to 64 lp/mm

  3. Signal-to-Noise Ratio from 18 to 24

  4. 10,000-hour tube life

 

3rd Gen FOM 1250 (3I) IIT Our 3I FOM 1250 Tubes (3I) are designed to support international sales of 3rd generation equipment to friendly countries. They have a micro channel plate, GaAs photocathode, and a completely self-contained integral highvoltage power supply. These 3rd Generation tubes provide a combined increase in resolution, signal to noise and photosensitivity over tubes with a multi-alkali photocathode. Generation 3 is the standard for the USA military. These tubes are designed to give optimal performance while being in compliance with the FOM 1250 requirement. State Department export license required.

3I IIT Features:

  1. Photo Cathode type: Gallium Arsenide

  2. FOM: <1250

  3. Resolution 51-64 lp/mm

  4. Signal-to-Noise Ratio 18 to 24

  5. 10,000-hour tube life

 

3rd Gen FOM 1600 (3N) IIT Our 3N FOM 1600 Tubes (3N) are designed to support international sales of 3rd generation equipment to NATO countries. They have a micro channel plate, GaAs photocathode, and a completely self-contained integral highvoltage power supply. These 3rd Generation tubes provide a combined increase in resolution, signal to noise and photosensitivity over tubes with a multi-alkali photocathode. Generation 3 is the standard for the USA military. These tubes are designed to give optimal performance while being in compliance with the FOM 1600 requirement. State Department export license required.

3N IIT Features:

  1. Photo Cathode type: Gallium Arsenide

  2. FOM: <1600

  3. Resolution 64 lp/mm typical

  4. Signal-to-Noise Ratio 22 Typical

  5. 10,000-hour tube life