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19 January 2009


Sofradir wins MCT detector contract from Galileo Avionica

Sofradir of Châtenay-Malabry, near Paris, France, which manufactures mercury cadmium telluride (HgCdTe, or MCT) infrared detectors for military, space and industrial applications, has signed a contract to supply Italy-based space equipment supplier Galileo Avionica S.p.A. (a member of the Finmeccanica Group) with its Saturn 1000x256 30-micron pitch short-wave infraRed (SWIR) detectors, for use in the Italian-led satellite program PRISMA (Precursor Hyperspectral Mission Application).

PRISMA is a system of earth observation instruments consisting of hyperspectral imagers. Hyperspectral imaging is a scanning operation, where each line of the image or object is optically split along the light spectrum. By resolving the light into individual spectral bands using an appropriate IR detector, the chemical content of the image can be determined. PRISMA’s orbit will be sun-synchronous, with a mean altitude of 700km at the equator.

The hyperspectral information will substantially increase information about the chemical make-up of objects, which is a first for this environmental observation program. The data collected is expected to help researchers worldwide to address the quality and protection of the environment, sustainable development, and climate change.

The role of Sofradir’s detectors is to scan portions of the earth and provide images from the visible to infrared. The firm will develop a specific and hermetic package suited for passive cooling, and will manufacture two types of detectors: very near infrared (VNIR) sensitive (at 0.4-1 microns) and SWIR sensitive (at 0.9-2.5 microns). The flight models will be delivered to Galileo Avionica in 2010.

Sofradir’s Saturn detector is an array made of MCT, which offers the highest performance for IR object-identification. With a length of 30mm, it is the largest IR detector in Sofradir’s product range. It includes 256 lines of 1000 pixels at a pitch of 30 microns. A different gain can be applied to each line, making the detector especially adapted to spectroscopy and hyperspectral imaging. In addition, a complementary technological process allows it to extend the responsivity down to the visible spectrum. “This contract gives us the opportunity to further extend the space qualification of our mercury telluride cadmium technology to the visible spectrum,” says Sofradir’s CEO Philippe Bensussan.

“Sofradir won this contract in an open and competitive bid,” adds Bensussan. “We selected Sofradir because the company has shown that it is the most experienced, reliable and competitively priced European manufacturer for this kind of detector,” comments Andrea Cisbani, PRISMA project manager at Galileo Avionica. “This contract cements a long-standing business relationship between Sofradir and Galileo Avionica that dates back 12 years.”

Sofradir is involved in a growing number of satellite and space missions, covering applications such as earth mapping, environment and disaster monitoring, and planet exploration. Its MCT IR detectors are already in orbit in the Helios II and Venus Express satellites. Its detectors for SGLI/G-COM (Second Generation GLI/Global Change Observation Mission) and for GMES/Sentinel-2 are now in production.

See related items:

New US subsidiary Electrophysics renamed Sofradir EC

Sofradir to supply Astrium with three-band SWIR detector for environmental mapping

Sofradir to acquire IR equipment maker Electrophysics

Sofradir launches compact cooled 1/2 TV format MWIR detector

Search: Sofradir SWIR HgCdTe MCT




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