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Thermal Imaging updated

Currently, thermal (LWIR) imaging depends primarily on two technologies, cryogenically-cooled crystalline materials that convert incoming infrared photons into charge and microbolometers operating at room temperature that convert incoming photons into heat that is detected by electrical changes in the heated material. Each has its own difficulties. Cooled sensors, while very efficient and accurate, are expensive and require bulky cooling support.  Microbolometers, while less expensive and more compact suffer from interframe lag and require special manufacturing processes that increase cost. 

Imaging, Stratafied sm for LWIR

Dark EnergySM, using techniques patented by Lumiense Photonics, is designing a new type of microbolometer sensor that features both reduced cost and no interframe lag.  In the Dark Energy sensors, each frame begins with a thermal reset that returns all  of the microbolometer elements to the substrate temperature in a few microseconds.  This not only isolates each frame from the next but also supports electronic global shuttering for exposures as short as 10 microseconds.  This allows not only lag-free area imaging but also design of linear LWIR arrays with line rates up to 50 kHz.

The basic Dark Energy design uses no special materials and supports pixel sizes down to 11 microns while permitting production of buttable and wafer-scale arrays.  Packaging is compatible with commonly-available optics.

Tell Us Your Requirements

Dark Energy produced its first proof-of-concept array in 2010 and, after discussions with potential customers, is embarking on its first commercial design due for release to production early in 2021. 

Now, we want to hear whet you need in a low-cost, high-performance thermal imager so we can include as many desirable features in our first device as possible.  Keep in mind that these devices will probably be subject to the usual export restrictions so, at the beginning, we will be able to ship only to customers for whom we will not need export licenses or ITAR clearance.  If you want to describe your need to us, please call one of our sales offices or send us an e-mail.

Proof of concept

In 2010, Lumiense made an LWIR detection array to test the fabrication processes and to validate some simulations.  A detail of one pixel in the array is shown here:

The pixel pitch in this array is 22 microns and the fill factor is 55%.  Note that the surface shown contains no electronics.  All readout circuitry is below the array, connected using the patented Lumiense processes.  No ball bonds or separate ROIC are needed.