Since 1997, Sofradir has been working with Thales Research and Technologies (TRT) to develop and implement Quantum Well Infrared Photodetectors (QWIP) as an alternative and complementary offer with Mercury Cadmium Telluride (MCT) Long Wave (LW) detectors, to provide large LW staring arrays.
Thanks to the low dark current technology developed by TRT, the QWIP detectors can be worked at FPA temperature above 73K, enabling the development of new compact IR cameras thanks to the use of compact microcoolers, and today, Sofradir is entering production with these highly compact QWIP components.
For the Long Wave applications, SOFRADIR offers the European TV/4 format with the VEGA-LW detector (25μm pitch 384×288 IDDCA) and the full TV format with the SIRIUS-LW detector (20μm pitch 640×512 IDDCA). The first one is under production for several hundreds of units, to equip the Catherine-XP thermal imager from Thales. The second one has been initially developed for the Catherine-MP high resolution (SXGA) thermal imager and is ready for production. Both detectors present highly uniform performances and sharp images with NETD in the 50mK range when working around 75K at video frame rate.
The TV/4 VEGA detector is also offered as a demonstrator for the Mid Wave applications, with a QWIP array adapted to this waveband. In the same time, a dual band MW-LW similar array is developed with spatial coherence, and is currently under demonstration.
The performances of these four QWIP detectors are reviewed in this paper.