25 April 2012

Sofradir demos prototype of first 10µm pixel-pitch MWIR detector 

At stand 1711 of the SPIE Defense, Security & Sensing (DSS 2012) exhibition in Baltimore (23–27 April), Sofradir of Châtenay-Malabry, near Paris, France (which makes cooled infrared detectors based on mercury cadmium telluride (MCT/HgCdTe) for military, space and commercial applications) is demonstrating a prototype of the first 10µm pixel-pitch infrared (IR) detector for tactical applications.

The image quality of an infrared detector depends on its spatial resolution, which is related to the size and number of pixels (so, the higher the number of pixels and the smaller the pixel size, the sharper the image). The small 10µm pixel pitch means that Sofradir can double the number of pixels on a standard size chip.

Sofradir says that, with this significant increase in image resolution, fighter pilots and soldiers can be considerably more effective in distinguishing between small objects at long distances (up to 10km) during the day and night, and through fog and smoke.
Targeted military applications of the 10µm pixel-pitch IR detector include Infrared Search and Track Systems (IRST), targeting and reconnaissance pods, long-range surveillance and armored vehicles.

“It is critical for the military to see first and see the right target, whatever the weather conditions. This is what the higher-resolution, higher-range 10µm pixel-pitch infrared detector helps provide,” says chairman & CEO Philippe Bensussan. “We were the first to introduce the 15µm pixel-pitch TV format IR detector, a compact high-resolution product that brought system integrators significant advantages in performance and footprint and has become an industry standard,” he claims. “We’re taking the lead once again by pushing the bar from the 12µm pixel pitch that exists today to 10µm.”

The focal plane array prototype was developed with the support of DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement) by French research organization CEA-Leti at DEFIR, the joint laboratory of Sofradir and CEA-Leti.  

Sofradir credits its MCT/HgCdTe cooled IR technology (which uses a silicon-like photodiode implantation process) for enabling the development of the 10µm pixel-pitch IR detector. MCT is extremely effective at controlling pixel diodes. Moreover, Sofradir’s indium bump positioning process is very accurate, the firm claims. This level of control offers it two options: it can fit more pixels on the IR chips currently in use (and therefore further enhance image resolution) or develop smaller IR chips) for overall IR system cost-savings).

Tags: Sofradir HgCdTe MCT IR detectors

Visit: www.sofradir.com

Visit: www.leti.fr

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