1 April 2010


Sofradir and Onera develop IR detector chip with integrated optics

Sofradir of Châtenay-Malabry, near Paris, France, which manufactures cooled infrared detectors based on mercury cadmium telluride (MCT/HgCdTe) for military, space and industrial applications, has designed a new IR detector with integrated optics, in collaboration with French government research aerospace laboratory Onera. Sofradir says that the IR detector chip opens up new possibilities in integration and compactness for IR imaging equipment.

The design is based on a standard Sofradir small-pitch video-quality IR detector (640 x 512 15-micron pixel-pitch VGA format), but Sofradir and Onera have integrated an optical lens alongside the IR detector, requiring control all of the IR detector operating and performance parameters. The integrated IR detector chip can hence produce a standalone image without the use of any other associated optics.

The demonstration IR detector provides a very large field of vision that is well suited to security and surveillance applications. This is the first time that Europeans have demonstrated the feasibility of an IR detector chip with integrated optics, claims Sofradir.

“Sofradir invests heavily in R&D to constantly push forward the performance and application of its cooled IR detectors,” says chairman & CEO Philippe Bensussan. “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,” he adds.

The new integrated IR detector chip could reduce the amount of optics and electronics used in an IR imaging system to about one-third, reckons Sofradir. For IR camera makers, it offers the potential of halving the size of future IR systems. “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,” says Philippe Tribolet, VP of R&D and Technologies.

Sofradir is demonstrating the chip at the SPIE Defense, Security and Sensing symposium in Orlando, FL, USA (5–9 April), which is one of the defense & security industry’s leading meetings for light-based and optronics applications (bringing together researchers, scientists and engineers from the military, industry and academia).

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