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Infrared demonstrator includes integrated Fisheye optics

Tue, 04/26/2011 - 6:56am

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Chatenay Malabry and Palaiseau, near Paris, France, April 26, 2011 - Sofradir and Onera announced today that they will demonstrate a new infrared (IR) detector with integrated Fisheye optics at Sofradir booth No 503 during the SPIE 2011 Defense, Security & Sensing Exhibition, April 26 - 28, in Orlando, Fl.

The new IR detector with integrated Fisheye optics, based on Sofradir's cutting-edge, high-performance Mercury Cadmium Telluride (MCT/HgCdTe) technology, features built-in 360 degree imaging. Previously, systems could only offer 360 degree imaging by using separate optical components.

The new product will help producers of missile warning systems reduce the size of the associated optical sensors and also make them more robust.

"Sofradir and Onera are delighted to announce this new IR detector with integrated Fisheye optics for 360 degree imaging that meets defense market demands for more compact equipment," said Philippe Bensussan, chairman and CEO of Sofradir. "This product marks an another important step in Sofradir's drive to bring customers best-in-class solutions, so that they can develop even smaller and better performing imaging systems."

The direct integration of 360 degree imaging lenses into the IR detector offers several benefits. First, the number of optical components is reduced. As a result, the camera's optical transmission is increased. This, in turn, improves the camera's sensitivity, a key feature in the performance of IR cameras. By succeeding in embedding the imaging lens into the cooling chamber, Sofradir and Onera have kept straylight to a minimum. The ability to minimize straylight means that the thermal response and the background current are more stable. This extra stability reduces the need to correct non-uniformity, a weakness that occurs in standard IR cameras. By integrating 360 degree optics into the IR detector, Sofradir and Onera have overcome several obstacles to improving the overall image quality in missile warning systems.

Missile warning systems are used on selected aircraft to notify the pilot of threats and to trigger the aircraft's countermeasures systems. They consist of a number of optical sensor converters, a computer processor and a control indicator. Each optical converter houses an infrared camera.

The new Fisheye IR detector is the result of a joint development project between Sofradir and Onera, with the support from the French Defense procurement agency DGA, which began 24 months ago. The partners demonstrated a prototype 640 x 512 15-micron pixel pitch VGA format IR chip with integrated optics at the 2010 SPIE exhibition. The 360 degree imaging is a new function.

SPIE Defense, Security & Sensing Exhibition 2011 is one of the defense & security industry's leading meetings for optronics. It brings together top researchers, scientists and engineers from the military, industry and academia. Programs cover the latest enabling technologies and applications in infrared, sensors, image analysis, and other systems and devices.

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