04 Apr 2017
Volume producer of microbolometer devices says technology will add flexibility to low-cost thermal imaging product design.
Infrared sensor company ULIS is set to unveil its first family of products based on a 12 µm pixel pitch at next week’s SPIE Defense and Commercial Sensing (DCS) event, offering the prospect of dramatically reduced cost and more flexible design options.
The French firm, part of the larger Sofradir Group, makes the microbolometer devices at its wafer fabrication facility near Grenoble. It claims that its new “Atto320” uncooled thermal sensor will cut the size of associated imaging optics by up to half, and overall cost by 20 per cent.
“The 12 µm pixel pitch is the new industry standard in thermal image sensors for market applications where reducing the overall size and cost of the camera are important,” announced the firm.
Target applications for the technology include the outdoor leisure/observation, thermography and surveillance sectors, which are tipped by at least one market analyst for rapid growth over the next few years, largely because of the cheaper and smaller sensors now becoming available.
ULIS points out that its stand-alone component will give system integrators a high degree of flexibility in configuring designs to meet specific performance requirements, enabling them to offer differentiated products to end-users.
That is in contrast to other 12 µm products, which ULIS says are typically sold either as modules or thermal camera cores, where access to the thermal image sensor’s performance parameters is restricted.
For example BAE Systems, which launched its first 12 µm pixel pitch products back in 2014, sells its “TWV640” product as a camera core, while FLIR Systems unveiled its “Boson” core at the SPIE DCS event last year, when it was held in Baltimore.
ULIS says that its 320x240 pixel device allow users to view fast-moving objects and to observe scenes at distances of several hundred meters. It claims that a person could be recognized from a distance of half a kilometer, by using it in conjunction with a 40 mm lens.
Operating at a frame rate of 60 Hz, the Atto320 consumes less than 220 mW, translating to a battery life of more than 10 hours for a handheld system.
Sebastien Tinnes, the ULIS marketing manager, said of the Atto320: “It showcases our expertise in developing innovative products for camera makers seeking more compactness and performance attributes that bring greater competitive advantages. This is a major step forward in our ability to fulfill our customers’ needs in optimizing the cost, compactness and performance of their systems.”
• ULIS says that it will be showing off Atto320 by invitation only at the SPIE DCS exhibition in Anaheim, California, next week. The company will be at booth B314.