Sofradir Shows the Future In Infrared Detection

April 26, 2012

Sofradir will demo what it considers to be the future industry standard for infrared (IR) detection in high performance systems, a prototype 10-micron pixel pitch MWIR, at SPIE DSS in Baltimore.

CHÂTENAY-MALABRY, France, -- Sofradir, the number one developer and manufacturer of a key class of infrared detectors for military, space and industrial applications, announces that it will demonstrate a prototype of the first 10-micron pixel pitch infrared (IR) detector for tactical applications at SPIE DSS in Baltimore, MD, April 23–27.

The image quality of an infrared detector depends on its spatial resolution that is related to the size and number of pixels. This means the higher the number of pixels and the smaller the pixel size, the sharper the image.

In regards to the 10-micron pixel pitch, the small pitch means that Sofradir can double the number of pixels on a standard size chip.

With this significant increase in image resolution, fighter pilots and soldiers will be considerably more effective in distinguishing between small objects at long distances (up to 10 km) during the day and night, and through fog and smoke.

Targeted military applications of Sofradir's 10-micron pixel pitch IR detector will 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 10-micron pixel pitch infrared detector helps provide," said Philippe Bensussan, chairman and CEO at Sofradir. "Sofradir continues to build on its legacy of innovation. We were the first to introduce the 15-micron 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. We're taking the lead once again by pushing the bar from 12-micron pixel pitch that exists today to 10-micron. Our customers can look forward to the ultimate performance in IR systems."

The focal plane array prototype was developed with the support of DGA (Direction Générale de l'Armement) by CEA-Leti at DEFIR, the joint laboratory of Sofradir and CEA-Leti. CEA-Leti is a leading European microtechnology, IT and health technology research center.

Sofradir credits its Mercury Cadmium Telluride (MCT/HgCdTe), a cooled IR technology using a silicon-like photodiode implantation process, for enabling the development of the 10-micron pixel pitch IR detector.

MCT is extremely effective at controlling pixel diodes. Moreover, Sofradir's indium bump positioning process (the bumps are connection pads that join the detection circuit and the read out integrated circuit together) is very accurate. This level of control offers Sofradir 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.

Sofradir will showcase the 10-micron pixel pitch IR prototype at stand 1711.

About Sofradir
Sofradir develops and manufactures advanced infrared (IR) detectors for military, space and commercial applications. It specializes in cooled IR detectors based on a sophisticated high performance technology, Mercury Cadmium Telluride (MCT), for which it has the market lead. Its vast product portfolio of scanning and staring arrays covers the entire infrared spectrum. Sofradir also offers QWIP detectors developed in cooperation with Thales.

Sofradir's headquarters are located in Châtenay-Malabry, near Paris, France. Its manufacturing facilities and those of ULIS, its subsidiary that manufactures mass volume uncooled IR detectors, are located in Veurey-Voroize, near Grenoble, France. Sofradir EC, the company's US subsidiary, operates in Fairfield, NJ. Sofradir, ULIS and Sofradir EC employ more than 550 people. The annual turnover in 2011 was EUR 150 million (approx. USD 200 million).

About CEA-Leti
CEA-Leti is a leading French research-and-technology organization with activities in energy, IT, healthcare, defense and security. CEA-Leti is focused on creating value and innovation through technology transfer to its industrial partners. It specializes in nanotechnologies and their applications, from wireless devices and systems to biology, healthcare and photonics. NEMS and MEMS are at the core of its activities. An anchor of the MINATEC campus, CEA-Leti operates 8,000 square metres of state-of-the-art clean room space on 200mm and 300mm wafer platforms. It employs 1,400 scientists and engineers and hosts more than 190 Ph.D. students and 200 associates from partner companies. CEA-Leti owns more than 1,700 patent families.

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