Advances in infrared (IR) focal plane arrays (FPA) have steadily encroached upon the limits of technology. Larger formats, smaller detectors, and higher operability have improved performance. The next step is an FPA that accepts photons and converts them into a corresponding digital word. This advancement reduces susceptibility to electromagnetic interference (EMI) at the interface and minimizes the complexity of the downstream electronics. Attempts to integrate this function in an FPA involved technical difficulties such as increased power, low resolution, and non-linearity. Santa Barbara Focalplane has successfully developed a number of different types of digital FPAs with improved performance and <i>lower power</i> than equivalent analog FPAs. These FPAs have been integrated into closed-cycle dewar-cooler assemblies (IDCA) and are being shipped in production quantities.
Second-generation technology production and development testing must be performed by equipment and processes that are capable of handling the tasks in an economically efficient manner. As such, data acquisition and reduction times, configuration change complexity, and test set recurring costs must be kept at a minimum to meet the needs of the second-generation IR factory. The maximum test throughput must be achieved, while meeting all technical requirements, using a minimum of program or capital assets. SBRC's method to accomplish this includes the design of the next generation of infrared test station, with a defined interface architecture, that allows great flexibility in the use of optical tables, warm and cryoprobers, and other test equipment. The paper will present a comparison of relative cost and capability between this most recent generation of test stations and the past generations. Benchmarks of key data acquisition and reduction speeds will be discussed. Also, benchmarks of configuration change time and performance may be included. The design of the interface architecture that allows flexible use of all supplemental test equipment (such as optical tables) is addressed. A general comparison of pre- and post-test equipment changes, as they relate to test throughput on a macro level, is included. There will also be a discussion of the increased capabilities of IR development and production test at this facility.