Sofradir Demonstrates New Low-Light IR Detector

Paris, France -- Sofradir, a developer and manufacturer of advanced infrared (IR) detectors for military, space, and industrial applications, announced it will demonstrate its new Avalanche Photodiode (APD) mid-TV format IR detector for amplifying low input signals and give five presentations on advanced research in mercury cadmium telluride (MCT/HgCdTe) technology at the SPIE Defense, Security & Sensing Conference in Orlando, FL, April 14–17, 2009.

"We see our MCT Avalanche Photodiode 30 micron pitch IR detector offering customers a flexible solution to address emerging opportunities in IR applications, where input light signals are very low," says Philippe Tribolet, VP R&D, Technology and Products, at Sofradir. "The SPIE Defense, Security & Sensing Conference is a forum in which Sofradir has actively participated for the past 16 years. It is an ideal meeting at which to demonstrate our new low-noise APD IR detector, offering system integrators a choice of wavebands, more compact optics, and an ability to overcome any low input signal read-out integrated circuit performance degradation."

Designed for military applications, active imagery (laser-gated imaging), spectrometry, gas detection, and a range of scientific applications, Sofradir's APD 30 micron pitch IR detector made with mercury cadmium telluride (MCT) technology enables users to operate cameras with small apertures or with narrow wavebands in extreme low-light detection.

Sofradir's APD IR detector can amplify low input signals by a factor of 5300, keeping the photodiode signal-to-noise level constant, a "result unmatched by competing technologies," the company says.

The announcement further expands Sofradir's large portfolio of high-performance, high-volume MCT IR detectors in the short waveband (1–2.5 micron) and mid-waveband (3–5). It can be used for active imagery (2D or 3D). It can also be used for passive imagery, where low input signals are amplified.

The R&D team at Sofradir will present five technical papers during SPIE, a leading meeting in the defense industry that brings together top researchers, scientists, and engineers from the military, industry, and academia. The presentations are:

  • Uniting IR detectors for tactical and space applications: a continuous cycle of reliability
  • 50 years of successful MCT research and production in France
  • New high-gain IR detectors for active imaging
  • Ultra-low-power ADC on chip for high-performance IR detectors
  • Sofradir MCT technology for space applications.

About Sofradir
Sofradir develops and manufactures advanced IR detectors for military, space, and commercial applications. It specializes in cooled IR detectors based on a sophisticated high-performance technology, MCT, and its vast product portfolio of scanning and staring arrays covers the entire IR spectrum. Sofradir also offers QWIP detectors developed in cooperation with Thales.

Sofradir owns two subsidiaries: ULIS, of which GE Equity has 15% ownership, and Sofradir EC. ULIS is a high-volume manufacturer of IR detectors for low-cost IR cameras for industrial, professional, and security applications. Sofradir EC develops and supplies IR equipment for scientific, industrial, public safety, security, and defense applications.

Customers for the group include the U.S. Army, Thales, Sagem, Selex, Thales Alenia Space, ESA (European Space Agency), and FLIR Systems.

Sofradir's headquarters are located in Châtenay-Malabry, near Paris, France. Its manufacturing facilities and those of ULIS are located in Veurey-Voroize, near Grenoble, France. Sofradir EC is based in Fairfield, NJ (U.S.). Sofradir, ULIS, and Sofradir EC employ more than 500 people. Total sales in 2008 were in the order of €120 million (U.S.$150 million to 160 million).

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