The demo concluded the year-long development of the 12-micron pixel 640- by 480-pixel FPA, with sensitivity in the mid-wavelength infrared (MWIR) spectral band. The breakthrough in creating the ultra-small pixel size FPA was enabled by DRS IRT's patented HDVIP(R) (High-Density Vertically-Integrated Photodiode) detector fabrication processes. The MWIR HDVIP(R) technology enables an increase in the operating temperature of the FPA from the industry standard of 77K to 120K, providing a significant reduction in the cooling power needed to operate a Focal Plane Array and aids in the overall size, weight, power and reliability improvements.
DRS's 640- by 480-pixel FPA is part of a broader thrust by DRS Technologies to provide the next-generation infrared sensors and systems to the U.S. military and Department of Homeland Security. As the first infrared device created at this pitch for military use, the reduction in pixel size parallels the commercial roadmap for visible imagers, where reduced pixel size has led to camera miniaturization, larger sensor array formats and lower cost. Small infrared systems of reduced weight and size are critically important to improved operational performance on the battlefield and support the Department of Defense's information superiority objectives. Furthermore, the reduced cost leads directly to wider proliferation of this vital technology.
Many emerging needs, such as small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance and man-portable long-range thermal viewers, now can be addressed with DRS's new FPA product. In addition, customers of many of the systems currently in use for long-range surveillance and targeting now have an opportunity for significant size and weight reductions. DRS's planned release of a high-definition television (HDTV) 1280- by 720-pixel format FPA in early 2007 is expected to further increase the company's market penetration of this revolutionary FPA technology and better service the high-performance market opportunities.