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10 October 2003 Resolution and sensitivity improvements for VOx microbolometer FPAs
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Raytheon Vision Systems (RVS) has achieved a significant technical breakthrough in uncooled FPAs by reducing the pixel size by a factor of two while maintaining state-of-the-art sensitivity. Raytheon is producing high-quality 320 x 240 microbolometer FPAs with 25 μm pitch pixels. The 320 x 240 FPAs have a sensitivity that is comparable to microbolometer FPAs with 50 μm pixels. The array average NETD value for these FPAs is about 30 mK with an f/1 aperture and operating at 30 Hz frame rates. Pixel operability is greater than 99% on most FPAs, and uncorrected responsivity nonuniformity is less than 4% (sigma/mean). These 25 μm microbolometer detectors also have a relatively fast thermal time constant of approximately 10 msec. This state-of-the-art performance has been achieved as a result of an advanced micro machining fabrication process, which allows maximization of both the thermal isolation and the optical fill-factor. These arrays have produced excellent image quality, and are currently fielded in demonstration systems. The reduction in pixel size offers several potential benefits for IR systems. For a given system resolution (IFOV) requirement, the 25 μm pxiels allow a factor of two reduction in both the focal length and aperture size of the sensor optics. These FPAs are applicable to wide-field-of-view, long-range surveillance and targeting missions. The pixel size reduction facilitates a significant FPA cost reduction since the number of die printed on a wafer can be increased, and also has enabled the development of a large-format 640 x 480 FPA array. Raytheon is producing these arrays with very good sensitivity. These arrays have excellent operability and image quality. Several dual FOV prototype systems have been delivered under the LCMS and UAV programs, and are under evaluation at NVESD. Raytheon Vision Systems (RVS) has developed a flexible uncooled front end (UFE) electronics that will serve as the basis for camera engine systems using 320 x 240 and 640 x 480 FPAs. The focus has been to develop architecture suitable for a wide variety of systems from low cost modest performance to high performance military applications. This product has been designed with military environmental and shock and vibration conditions in mind. Intended for small pxiel, high performance applications, the UFE is the ideal cornerstone for ground and airborne UAV, multi-mode sneosr, weapon sight or seeker architectures.
© (2003) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Daniel F. Murphy, Adam Kennedy, Michael Ray, Richard Wyles, Jessica Wyles, James F. Asbrock, C. Hewitt, David Van Lue, T. Sessler, John Steven Anderson, Daryl Bradley, Richard Chin, H. Gonzales, C. Le Pere, and Thomas Kostrzewa "Resolution and sensitivity improvements for VOx microbolometer FPAs", Proc. SPIE 5074, Infrared Technology and Applications XXIX, (10 October 2003);

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