Minimum resolvable temperature difference (MRT): Procedure improvements and dynamic MRT

Keith Krapels, Ronald Driggers, Richard Vollmerhausen, Carl Halford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Minimum resolvable temperature difference (MRT or MRTD) is the primary performance test for tactical military infrared (IR) sensors. It is a lab measurement that may be related to discrimination task performance in the field. Also, a theoretical model exists for deriving the MRT of a particular sensor, where the model is used in sensor design evaluation and trades. The model includes both the human and the sensor/display in the overall system performance and can be considered a visual acuity test of a human looking through the IR imager. Both the model and test are validated for first and second generation forward looking IR sensors. The test procedure has been incorrectly applied to undersampled staring array imagers that are becoming more common today. Additionally, it lacks stringent controllability in the procedures, which hampers test repeatability. As a result, multiple measurements are typically performed and the results averaged. This is usually without regard to statistical requirements for estimating values from distributed data. Improvements to the MRT testing procedure are investigated in this research. Data is reported that supports the use of improved techniques. The first improvement is to standardize the sensor and display configuration procedures. A process for standardization is presented and applied to a mid-wave IR imaging sensor. The currently accepted procedure for the static MRT test is accompanied by errors for undersampled staring array imagers. Thus, the second improvement suggested is to utilize dynamic MRT (DMRT) testing for undersampled IR imaging systems. Two motivations for the study presented here are to minimize the uncertainty associated with MRT testing and to improve the characterization of undersampled imagers. These two goals are achieved by the suggested improvements. The resulting DMRTs are compared with modeled MRTs and static MRTs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-31
Number of pages15
JournalInfrared Physics and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Dynamic MRT
  • Minimum resolvable temperature difference (MRT)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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