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3 June 2008


Princeton Lightwave and Nextreme to develop coolers for SWIR focal plane sensors

Short-wave infrared (SWIR) sensor and laser manufacturer Princeton Lightwave Inc (PLI) of Cranbury, NJ and Nextreme Thermal Solutions Inc of Durham, NC, USA, which designs and makes microscale thermal and power management products, have agreed to jointly develop a SWIR focal plane sensor with efficient thermoelectric cooling.

The solution is based on Princeton Lightwave’s indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) focal plane arrays and Nextreme’s thermal bump technology. The combination should dramatically reduce power consumption and weight, as well as improving overall performance, the firms reckon, enabling widespread deployment of SWIR sensors for night-vision systems.

The US military and homeland security organizations use infrared sensors incorporated into night-vision goggles, weapon-sights and laser-based ranging and tracking devices. InGaAs SWIR sensors are of interest to the military, as they are digital devices that can be networked. They are sensitive to the nightglow radiation at 1.6 micron wavelengths, enabling operation in total darkness. Also, this part of the spectrum is eye-safe, allowing the use of laser illuminators invisible to current night-vision devices.

Detector performance is usually limited by thermally generated noise, which can be reduced by cooling. The two firms are hence actively working on integrating thin-film thermoelectric coolers with focal plane arrays to provide night-vision imaging.

“Nextreme’s technology and assembly platforms for thermoelectric devices together with PLI’s low-dark-current, high-performance 2D focal plane arrays have great potential for achieving significant efficiency improvements over conventional techniques,” claims Sabbir Rangwala, PLI’s VP of product development. “Their technology offers a path for innovative integration within PLI sensors in order to provide superior performance with power-efficient cooling.” Such cooling technology should remove the barriers associated with the widespread use of SWIR sensing technology in next-generation products, adds Dr Paul A. Magill, Nextreme’s VP of marketing and business development.

See related items:

PLI awarded $3.5m DARPA contract for single-photon FPAs

Search: Princeton Lightwave Nextreme SWIR sensors InGaAs Night-vision systems

Visit: www.princetonlightwave.com

Visit: www.nextreme.com