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Integrated optics shrink IR detectors

06 Apr 2010

Sofradir is displaying a focal plane array featuring integrated optics at this week's SPIE Defense, Security & Sensing conference.

Sofradir, a leading manufacturer of advanced infrared (IR) detectors for military, space and industrial applications, has designed an IR detector featuring integrated optics in collaboration with France's government research aerospace laboratory Onera. This is thought to be the first time that Europeans have demonstrated the feasibility of an IR detector chip with integrated optics.

According to Sofradir, the integrated IR detector chip could reduce the amount of optics and electronics used in an IR imaging system to about one-third. For IR camera makers, it offers the potential of halving the size of future designed IR systems.

The detector is said to provide a very large field of vision that is well suited for security surveillance applications. "At present, this IR detector allows us to demonstrate the feasibility of integrating optics, but it can definitely open the way for other security applications for cooled IR detectors," explained Philippe Tribolet, vice-president of R&D and technologies.

The design is based on a standard Sofradir small pitch video quality IR detector (640 × 512 15 µm pixel pitch VGA format). What is new is that Sofradir and Onera have integrated an optical lens alongside the IR detector, a challenging feat that requires successful control all of the IR detector operating and performance parameters. As a result, this integrated IR detector chip can produce a standalone image without the use of any other associated optics.

"Sofradir invests heavily in R&D to constantly push forward the performance and application of its cooled IR detectors," said Philippe Bensussan, chairman and chief executive officer of Sofradir. "Our collaboration with Onera, a centre of excellence in aerospace research, in developing the first IR chip with integrated optics is built upon a relationship that goes back many years. We are excited about the possibilities that this new development will bring our customers in security and surveillance applications."

Sofradir will present the integrated 640 × 512 15 µm pixel pitch VGA format demonstration chip at the SPIE Defense, Security and Sensing symposium, 5–9 April in Orlando, Florida, booth #635.

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