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13 August 2008


SCD awarded $1.75m DARPA contract to develop xBn IR detectors

SemiConductor Devices (SCD) of Haifa, Israel, which develops and manufactures infrared detectors and laser diodes, has received a $1.75m phase I contract from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the development of a new ‘XBn’ infrared detector technology. If all phases of the development program are completed, total funding could be up to $5m.

SCD is a 50:50 joint venture between defense electronics firm Elbit Systems Ltd and Rafael, which designs, develops and manufactures defense systems including naval, air and ground precision weapons, electro-optic systems, electronic warfare (EW) systems, C4I (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence) and unmanned systems, acoustic defense systems, armored protection, breaching munitions and space technologies. SCD’s products include indium antimonide (InSb) two-dimensional arrays, mercury cadmium telluride (MCT) TDI (time delay and integration) and vector arrays, VOx (vanadium oxide) microbolometers, and QCW (quasi-continuous-wave) and CW (continuous-wave) laser diodes.

The new program considers a new type of semiconductor heterostructure detector, in which no depletion layer exists in any narrow-bandgap region. Instead, the depletion layer is confined to a wider-bandgap barrier material. In such a ‘barrier device’ the dark current can be made lower than in a conventional homostructure device operating at the same temperature. This can allow operating temperatures in the region of 150K to be achieved without degrading the detector’s performance relative to homostructure devices, with a similar photoresponse operating at lower temperatures.

“We see this direct contract between an Israeli company and DARPA as a recognition by DARPA in the capabilities of SCD to perform a challenging project that eventually will fit into high-end infrared systems,” says SCD’s CEO Baruch Glick.

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