April 18, 2006, Orlando, FL--Sofradir (Grenoble, France) has unveiled a compact, high-definition, 1280- x 1024-pixel 15-micron-pixel-pitch third-generation MWIR detector at the SPIE Defense and Security Symposium (April 17-21, 2006). Dubbed the Jupiter, the molecular-beam-epitaxy mercury cadmium telluride (MBE/MCT) detector is TV-compatible. Jupiter operates in the 3- to 5-micron wavelength range.
Other features include an operating temperature of 90 K and a linear 1-watt microcooler, one of the smallest for this class of detector. It has a 99.8% level of operability.
During production, MCT IR detectors of Jupiter's size demand the control of all material processing at every stage, from material growth to hybridization. Material uniformity and substrate-wafer size are among the biggest challenges. "Switching to MBE technology has been crucial to success," said Philippe Tribolet, vice president of R&D and technologies.
Sofradir's MBE process was developed in collaboration with the LETI (Laboratoire d'Electronique de Technologie de l'Information), through a joint laboratory, DEFIR ( Design of Excellence for the Future of IR). DEFIR is the only lab in Europe to have industrialized this process, joining the small club of those, mainly in the US, who have demonstrated the feasibility of third-generation IR detectors.
For Sofradir, one of the major contributions of its MBE process has been the ability to move the production of arrays from 2-inch to 4-inch wafers. For example, using the company's Scorpio (a 640 x 512 MCT IR detector) as a reference, Sofradir can cut a set of 16 arrays using a 2-inch wafer. With a 4-inch wafer, the number of arrays that Sofradir can cut is close to 60, representing about a factor-of-four capacity increase and consequently a cost reduction.
Sofradir will be expanding its current facility to better accommodate the production of 4-inch MBE wafers, planned for mid-2007.
In cooperation with the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA-LETI), Sofradir is presenting five technical papers at the SPIE conference: "From visible to infrared, a new detector approach," "MWIR focal planar arrays made with HgCdTe grown by MBE on germanium substrates," "Digital output for high performance MCT staring array," "Single-color and dual-band QWIP production results," and "Bi-color and dual-band HgCdTe infrared focal plane arrays at DEFIR."