Smaller Pixels and Larger Formats
L-3 Infrared Products laid off 10% of its 180 employees in June in an effort to stem the flow of red ink.
Manufacturers of uncooled microbolometers are racing to develop and introduce focal plane arrays with 17 micron pixels. The smaller size pixels are seen by producers as a way to differentiate their products and as a path to lower cost and higher volume markets.
L-3 Infrared Products is phasing out the production of uncooled BST ferroelectric FPAs and cameras. The company expects to stop producing BST detectors in mid-2009 but will support these products for another three years.
L-3 Infrared Products is taking aim at the military driver’s vision enhancement (DVE) market with a new system intended to be used on tactical wheeled vehicles. The Diver’s Vision System (DVS) makes use of the company’s uncooled BST FPAs which are also used in its commercial automotive night vision system.
Requirements by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for increased security at power plants has provided EMX a ready market for thermal rifle sights.
The U.S. Army’s effort to keep pushing the performance of uncooled sensor technology is again bearing fruit. All four contractors developing ultra-small pixel uncooled microbolometers have demonstrated 640 x 480 focal plane arrays with 17 µm pixels in thermal weapon sights.
An attempt to gain economies of scale in the automotive night vision market has fallen through. Negotiations on the potential acquisition by Autoliv of the L-3 Infrared Products automotive night vision business have been discontinued. The move would have combined the two leading suppliers of passive LWIR automotive night vision systems.
L-3 Infrared Products is finally on the road to rolling out its uncooled thin-film ferroelectric (TFFE) focal plane arrays. The company has exerted a concentrated effort during the last year to make its process more robust and expects to show samples to customers during the third quarter of this year.
DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office has awarded four 3-year contracts for the development of near room temperature (or “HOT - High Operating Temperature”) mid-wave infrared focal plane arrays. The FPAs are intended for future use in ground-based threat warning systems.
Nippon Avionics has developed an integral helmet-mounted uncooled infrared imager for firefighters.
Honeywell is continuing its bid to license a broad swath of uncooled microbolometer technologies. In the latest agreement, L-3 Communications has reached a license agreement for the amorphous silicon microbolometers being made by its L-3 Infrared Products unit (formerly Raytheon Commercial Infrared).