Sofradir plans new compound semiconductors and Ulis plans for smart sensors
Sofradir and Ulis are reorganizing in an effort to make their infrared detector businesses more efficient. In order to do so, the new management team will exploit synergies between the cooled Sofradir operations and the uncooled microbolometer operations of Ulis.
Twelve departments are being set up, among them two new ones: Technology & Strategy and Projects & Programs. All of the departments will be common to both the cooled Sofradir and uncooled Ulis businesses. Previously, the Sofradir and Ulis operations had separate groups handling these functions.
Imaging of gas leaks (especially of methane, but also of other gases) has traditionally been done with portable infrared cameras based on cooled InSb and QWIP FPAs. In these, either the FPA spectral response is tuned to the absorption wavelength of the gas of interest or a spectral filter is used in front of it. Alternatively, high-end spectrally selective (Fourier Transform Infrared – FTIR) cameras (also based on cooled FPAs) are used to detect gas leaks with high sensitivity, but at a price premium.
Now, a new generation of innovative uncooled gas sensors are being developed to not just monitor large gas leaks but also act as monitors for small leaks.
Not Just MCT
Overseas IR Detector Companies Expanding U.S. Operations
The Strategy Behind the Move
General Electric’s GE Commercial Finance is taking a 15% minority stake in Ulis, the supplier of uncooled amorphous silicon microbolometers.
Sofradir has been awarded a EUR 3.2 million (USD 4.2 million) contract by NEC Toshiba Space for an infrared detector to be used on the Global Change Observation Mission (GCOM) satellite of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
Sofradir is starting construction on a new Fab near Grenoble that will double its production capacity of cooled infrared focal plane arrays and position the company to supply 3rd Gen FPAs. The new facility will produce mercury cadmium telluride (MCT) FPAs by Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) on 4” germanium substrates (compared to the currently used 2” CZT substrates).