Following the development of 1st Generation systems in the 1970s, thermal imaging has been in service with the UK
armed forces for over 25 years and has proven itself to be a battle winning technology. More recently the wider
accessibility to similar technologies within opposing forces has reduced the military advantage provided by these 1st
Generation systems and a clear requirement has been identified by the UK MOD for thermal imaging sensors providing
increased detection, recognition and identification (DRI) ranges together with a simplified logistical deployment burden
and reduced through-life costs.
In late 2005, the UK MOD initiated a programme known as "Albion" to develop high performance 3rd Generation single
waveband infrared detectors to meet this requirement. At the same time, under a separate programme supporting higher
risk technology, a dual waveband infrared detector was also developed. The development phase of the Albion
programme has now been completed and prototype detectors are now available and have been integrated into
demonstration thermal imaging cameras. The Albion programme has now progressed into the second phase,
incorporating both single and dual waveband devices, focussing on low rate initial production (LRIP) and qualification
of the devices for military applications.
All of the detectors have been fabricated using cadmium mercury telluride material (CMT), grown by metal organic
vapour phase epitaxy (MOVPE) on low cost, gallium arsenide (GaAs) substrates and bump bonded to the silicon read
out circuit (ROIC). This paper discusses the design features of the 3rd Generation detectors developed in the UK together
with the results obtained from the prototype devices both in the laboratory and when integrated into field deployable
thermal imaging cameras.