Sensors Unlimited awarded US Air Force R&D contract

OCTOBER 26--Sensors Unlimited Inc. (Princeton, NJ; www.sensorsinc.com) has announced a new US Air Force contract to research and design a communication device that can be added to its proprietary dual-spectrum camera.

Oct 26th, 2004

OCTOBER 26--Sensors Unlimited Inc. (Princeton, NJ; www.sensorsinc.com), a manufacturer of short-wavelength infrared (SWIR) cameras, has announced a new US Air Force (USAF) contract to research and design a communication device that can be added to its proprietary dual-spectrum camera. The company recently announced its new dual-wavelength Visible-InGaAs (indium gallium arsenide) MiniCamera currently in use by the US Department of Defense. The R&D contract will build upon this dual-spectrum InGaAs technology that allows simultaneous imaging in two wavebands--visible and SWIR.

The high-resolution focal-plane-array (FPA) images use light from 400 to 1700 nm without distinguishing between the various wavelengths, producing a single, combined visible/SWIR image. The uncooled Visible-InGaAs MiniCamera has no moving parts and is lightweight, compact, and suited for helmet-mounted applications such as imaging and communications.

The USAF has awarded the new contract to develop an improved solid-state, thermoelectrically temperature-stabilized dual-spectrum imager that doubles as a communication device. Three objectives under this R&D contract will be to improve sensitivity in the visible waveband; to enable the camera to also function as a 1-GHz communication link by using a single pixel in the camera's detector array; and to reduce pixel pitch from the camera's current 40-μm pitch down to 15 μm. Although the contract parameters required a 25 x 25-pixel array, Sensors Unlimited will deliver a much higher-resolution 128 x 128-pixel FPA and the camera electronics to run the enhanced array. These improvements will expand current night-vision technology to foster a smarter, multifunction dual-wavelength video camera/communication tool.

Says Tara Martin, research engineer and project director for the $750,000 (Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant, "This contract underscores the military's heightened interest in InGaAs SWIR technology." She continues, "The InGaAs platform makes possible an intrinsically smaller, lighter, more robust and more economical dual spectrum camera that sees all eye-safe military laser illuminators, designators, and now communication lasers."


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