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NANO2021-Nanoteknologi og nye materiale

Novel IR Imager for Enabling and Emerging Applications

Alternative title: Infrarød bildesensor for muliggjørende og nye applikasjoner

Awarded: NOK 15.9 mill.

Project Manager:

Project Number:

327742

Project Period:

2021 - 2024

Location:

The project will develop a novel infrared imager for measuring heat and temperature, for enabling and emerging applications with a new electro-optical technology and cost-effective manufacture. The new technologies require R&D for the electronic readout integrated circuits, microbolometer arrays, meta-lens optics and wafer-level packaging. Digital video cameras use CMOS image sensors that are sensitive to light below 1-µm wavelength, but not sensitive beyond 1µm. The range beyond 1µm, called infrared (IR), is very interesting because it enables see-through smoke, vapour, fog, dust, thermal imaging at night and day and measuring surface temperatures. For many years, IR imaging has been reserved to high-end applications (defence, security and industry) because of the need for cryogenically cooled image sensors and optics that are expensive, hard to produce and often export-restricted. New MEMS microbolometer arrays enable lower-cost IR imaging because MEMS can be mass-produced and can be operated at room temperature, thereby reducing the size, weight and power. Mass-production and low-cost enable new applications in emerging markets (homes, phones, automotive, gaming, IoT). To enable even more applications and drive market adoption, sensors and optics must be further reduced in size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C). This project pursues new ideas to reduce SWaP-C for IR imaging systems, in particular the mid and long wave infrared (MWIR 3-5µm, LWIR 8-14µm) where the atmosphere is transparent for thermal radiation. The results will lead to a novel infrared imager of lower cost, smaller size and lower power than existing systems. This new product will be important for customers that are active in thermography, surveillance, automotive and air quality (gas detection) and customers that are developing new applications in these fields.

For many years, infrared imaging has been reserved to high-end applications (defense, security and industry) because of the need for cryogenically cooled image sensors and optics that are expensive, hard to produce and often export-restricted. New MEMS microbolometer arrays enable lower-cost infrared imaging because MEMS can be mass-produced and can be operated at room temperature, thereby reducing the size, weight and power. Mass-production and low-cost enable new applications in emerging markets (homes, phones, automotive, gaming, IoT). To enable even more applications and drive market adoption, sensors and optics must be further reduced in size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C). This project pursues new ideas to reduce SWaP-C for infrared imaging systems, in particular the mid and long wave infrared (MWIR 3-5µm, LWIR 8-14µm) where the atmosphere is transparent for thermal radiation. The challenges and objectives are 1. To update the design of readout integrated circuit with respect to low power and high dynamic range and fabricate wafers with microbolometers. 2. To develop the process of packaging microbolometer arrays at wafer-level, comprising cap wafer design and fabrication with cavity and anti-reflection grating, getter and wafer bonding. 3. To develop the broad band meta-lens optical system, polarization insensitive and aberration free for the entire field of view, fabrication based on silicon/chalcogenides by wafer-scale molding or nano-imprint technology, and comparable to state-of-the-art refractive lenses. 4. To design and build the prototype infrared camera for design validation, tests and demonstrations. The camera comprises the microbolometer array, proximity readout electronics and meta-lens optics. The resulting thermal infrared camera technology will be available commercially at lower cost and with comparable quality to the state-of-the-art larger and more expensive systems.

Funding scheme:

NANO2021-Nanoteknologi og nye materiale