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Sofradir drives Euro 23m sensor project

31 Jan 2007

French government contributes 30% to digital sensor project for "next generation" military/aerospace/civilian applications.

Sofradir, a developer of advanced infrared detectors, based in Veurey-Voroize, France, has reported a "major step forward" in the €23 million ($30 million) Imalogic R&D project, which involves its subsidiary Ulis and partner companies Trixell and STMicroelectronics.

The good news for the industrial partners is that the French government has agreed to contribute €5.6 million (30% of the total) in support of the project. The companies are making the remaining 70% share of the investment themselves.

Imalogic brings together the R&D resources of the four digital sensor manufacturers, as well as the legacy in applied research from CEA-LETI, a leading European micro-electronics research center.

The partners are working to develop and market "next-generation" digital sensors for professional and commercial applications in each company's respective market. Sofradir will target the market for high-definition infrared detectors for aerospace and security; Ulis , the automobile industry and Trixell and ST Microelectronics, who are working together, the X-ray medical sector.

"Grenoble has a tradition of successful alliances linking research, education, and industry," said Imalogic project leader Philippe Tribolet, VP R&D at Sofradir. "We are thrilled about the state supporting industry and research-led innovation here. This contribution is a major step towards helping us achieve our mutual objectives."

The financial support is part of a French Finance Ministry initiative to help industry to become more competitive globally. Sofradir, Ulis, Trixell and STMicroelectronics, together will invest 70 per cent in Imalogic, which is budgeted at €23 million. The Finance Ministry, as well as regional agencies and municipalities in and around Grenoble where the companies' R&D centers are based, will contribute 30%.

Imalogic is one of 30 micro and nanotechnology, and embedded system-on-chip projects that Minalogic, a global competitive center for micro-smart devices, is supporting. Sofradir is taking a leading role in managing the project, scheduled for completion in 2009.

Already underway is a detailed investigation of the constraints that exist in the base technologies common to all sensors and which impact on product performance. A follow-up step is to optimize the synergies found in the methodologies, design tools, and equipment used by the partners.

The role of the CEA-LETI will be to aid the firms involved by developing base technologies and new component architectures designed to lower the production costs of the applications targeted.

Imalogic members are hoping over the next five to 10 years to achieve greater market share in the commercial sector, increase revenue, and create new jobs, as a direct result of the project and the competitiveness of the digital sensor products that will be produced.

"Each member will benefit from the shared knowledge and skills that are being pooled in semi-conductor materials and information processing as well as in integration and encapsulation technologies," added Tribolet. "We believe that Imalogic will enable us to overcome some well-known technological barriers and open up new market opportunities in the whole spectral band from X-ray to infrared."

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