Hitherto, two families of multielement infrared (IR) detectors are used for principal military and civilian infrared applications; one is used for scanning systems (first generation) and the other is used for staring systems (second generation). Third generation systems are being developed nowadays. In the common understanding, third generation IR systems provide enhanced capabilities like larger number of pixels, higher frame rates, better thermal resolution as well as multicolor functionality and other on-chip functions.
In the paper, issues associated with the development and exploitation of materials used in fabrication of third generation infrared photon detectors are discussed. In this class of detectors two main competitors, HgCdTe photodiodes and quantum well photoconductors are considered. The performance figures of merit of state-of-the-art HgCdTe and QWIP focal plane arrays (FPAs) are similar because the main limitations come from the readout circuits.
The metallurgical issues of the epitaxial layers such as uniformity and number of defected elements are the serious problems in the case of long wavelength infrared (LWIR) and very LWIR (VLWIR) HgCdTe FPAs. It is predicted that superlattice based InAs/GaInSb system grown on GaSb substrate seems to be an attractive to HgCdTe with good spatial uniformity and an ability to span cutoff wavelength from 3 to 25 μm. In this context the material properties of type II superlattices are considered more in detail.
"Competitive technologies for third generation infrared photon detectors", Proc. SPIE 6206, Infrared Technology and Applications XXXII, 62060S (17 May 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.666882; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.666882