PRINCETON, N.J., Oct. 28 -- Sensors Unlimited Inc., a manufacturer of short-wave infrared (IR) cameras, has received a US Air Force contract to research and design a communication device that can be added to its proprietary dual-spectrum camera.
The company recently introduced a dual-wavelength visible-InGaAs (indium gallium arsenide) camera that is already in use by the Department of Defense. The R&D contract will build on this dual-spectrum InGaAs technology, which allows simultaneous imaging in two wavebands, visible and short-wave infrared (SWIR). The high-resolution focal plane array (FPA) images use light from 400 nm to 1700 nm without distinguishing between the various wavelengths, producing a single, combined visible/SWIR infrared image.
Three objectives under the contract will be to improve sensitivity in the visible waveband; to enable the camera to also function as a 1-GHz communication link by using a single pixel in the camera's detector array; and to reduce pixel pitch from the camera's current 40-micron pitch down to 15 microns. Although the contract parameters required a 25 x 25 pixel array, Sensors Unlimited said it will deliver a much higher-resolution 128 x 128-pixel FPA and the camera electronics to run the enhanced array. These improvements will expand current night vision technology to foster a smarter, multifunction dual-wavelength video camera/communication tool.
According to Tara Martin, research engineer and project director for the $750,000 Small Business Innovative Research grant, "This contract underscores the military's heightened interest in InGaAs SWIR technology. The InGaAs platform makes possible an intrinsically smaller, lighter, more robust and more economical dual-spectrum camera that sees all eye-safe military laser illuminators, designators and now communication lasers."
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