George Kotelly Editor in Chief [email protected]
The 47th Annual Meeting of SPIE—The International Society for Optical Engineering (www.spie.org), Optical Science and Technology 2002, recently held in Seattle, WA, featured more than 2300 technical papers and 230 exhibiting companies and covered a range of optical, radiation, image-processing, materials, and geoscience topics. Among the many highlighted products were several high-speed cameras.
For example, photonics-consultant Bruce Johnson of Johnson Scientific Group Inc. (Phoenix, AZ; www.johnsonscientificgroup.com) was impressed with the Marconi Applied Technologies (Elmsford, NY; www.marconitech.com) impact ionization CCD sensor. [Note: Marconi was recently sold to 3i (London, UK) and has been renamed E2V Technologies Ltd. (Chelmsford, Essex, UK; www.e2v.co.uk)] "They have a new imager technology that can amplify the raw optical signal before it is read out. This means that it can work at very short exposures," says Johnson.
While there had to be broad awareness among conference attendees of the potential impact of national homeland-security efforts upon the optical and imaging industry, the effect was low-key, with little obvious impact on show promotional messages or technical topics. However, according to Johnson, for security and surveillance, a military helicopter pilot can see people hiding in the trees with an infrared night-vision system, but also needs to see the trees with a low-light-level system to avoid hitting them. "The low-light-level business, in general, is related to homeland security," says Johnson, "now that night vision and low-light imaging technologies are essentially fused.
"Within a year, technology for making better backside-illuminated CCDs should be announced," adds Johnson, who chaired the conference technical session on vacuum and solid-state photoelectronic imagers, detectors, and systems. "We had several papers about low-light-level imaging and night vision. With these technologies, you can also take a picture of something going past on a high-speed belt," he comments.Cameras aboundOther cameras that attracted attendee attention included the Cohu Inc., Electronics Division (San Diego, CA; www.cohu-cameras.com), new model 1200 machine-vision alignment imager/reader. This OEM unit comprises an integrated 768 X 494-pixel camera and a three-channel illuminator in a self-contained, programmable package. Potential applications include reading data codes, fiducial codes, and barcodes, as well as robotic pick and place.
A new 11-Mpixel CCD camera, FFM4026D/Multi, was shown by Narragansett Imaging (North Smithfield, RI; www.nimaging.com). The camera module contains a full-frame monochrome or RGB color CCD with 4008 X 2672 active pixels. A high-speed 25-MHz readout permits 2 frames/s through one channel and 4 frames/s for two channels. According to Mike Halloran, vice president of imaging modules, digitization to 12 bits and low readout noise allow image acquisition with a high dynamic range.
Other high-speed cameras were demonstrated by Photo-Sonics (Burbank, CA; www.photosonics) and by Photron USA (San Diego, CA; www.photron.com), which showed its Apex High-G CMOS cameras with a rugged (Itronix) notebook computer for processing image data.
Andor Technology (South Windsor, CT; www.andor-tech.com) unveiled its new 512 X 512-pixel, 5-MHz CCD camera. This sensitive CCD camera, according to booth personnel, uses Marconi's new L3 Vision chip (IxOn 87).
Pixel Devices International (Sunnyvale, CA; www.pixeldevices.com) showed its new Owl ultrasensitive linescan camera, which proves that CMOS can handle higher-end applications, according to booth personnel.Meat inspectionDonna Kocak, software engineer at eMERGE Interactive Inc. (Sebastian, FL; wwwemergeinteractive.com), in an application paper, described a real-time food-inspection system for detecting beef-carcass contamination. This contamination is signaled by the presence of chlorophyll, which emits red (660-680 nm) fluorescence in the presence of blue (300-600 nm) light. An automated inspection system illuminates moving sides of beef while several cameras map for contaminated areas. Imaging data for process control and visual display provide guidance for detecting and removing affected areas, 50% of which may not be visible to the unaided eye. The company developed custom, modular software using Microsoft Visual C++. This software can perform geometric alignment, spatial alignment, histogram equalization, thresholding, and blob analysis.
The inspection system comprises two inspection towers, a system control unit, and a display monitor. Each tower contains up to five illumination and camera modules, plus a computer for image analysis. At maximum food-inspection speed, four seconds are available to detect, identify, locate, and process evidence of contamination on one beef carcass. Benefits of the system include identification of areas to be cleaned or removed, and subsequent verification that the cleanup operations have been successful. System trials were completed at Iowa State University, and successful field demonstrations were conducted this year at Oklahoma State University and University of Florida meatpacking facilities.
By Joe Hallett, Contributing EditorAlliances accelerateCognex Corp. (Natick, MA; www.cog-nex.com) and Accu-Sort Systems Inc. (Telford, PA; www.accusort.com) have entered into a multiyear product-development and OEM agreement. Under this agreement, Cognex will develop new machine-vision products for use by Accu-Sort that will automatically acquire images of packages moving at high speeds on material handling lines and then analyze those images for a variety of packaging features, character recognition and verification, and pattern matching.
Infineon Technologies AG has partnered with Agere Systems Inc. and Motorola Inc. to establish StarCore LLC (Austin, TX; www.starcore-dsp.com), a new company that will develop and market digital-signal-processing core technologies.
Eastman Kodak Co. (Rochester, NY; www.kodak.com) has licensed its organic-light-emitting-diode (OLED) technology to Optrex America Inc. (Plymouth, MI; www.optrexusa.com). The royalty-bearing license covers the use of passive-matrix OLED patents and technologies for a variety of flat-panel-display applications.
Iridian Technologies Inc. (Moorestown, NJ; www.iridiantech.com) has partnered with Oki Electric Industry Co. Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan; www.oki.com) to deliver an iris-recognition system, IrisPass-WG, that automatically detects the position of human eyes to accelerate the process of high-volume iris-recognition authentication.
Braintech Canada Inc. (Vancouver, BC, Canada; www.braintech.com) has signed a marketing-and-development agreement with Marubeni Corp. (Tokyo, Japan) under which Marubeni will manufacture, integrate, and distribute Braintech's Vision-Guided Robotic systems throughout Southeast Asia and Australia.Management movesCognex Corp. (Natick, MA; www.cognex.com) has filed a complaint against Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd. (Dorval, Quebec, Canada; www.matrox.com) and its Massachusetts distributor in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston. Cognex claims that the Matrox Geometric Model Finder software, and possibly other components, shipped as part of the company's Matrox Imaging Library (MIL), infringes claims of at least one Cognex patent. Cognex is seeking to stop Matrox from making and selling Geometric Model Finder or any other product that is found to infringe Cognex patents. Cognex is also seeking unspecified damages to compensate for the Matrox patent infringement. Matrox is confident that its technology does not infringe upon the intellectual property rights of any of its competitors, including Cognex. Matrox believes that the Cognex allegations are without merit and will vigorously contest the lawsuit.
Dialog Semiconductor plc (Kirchheim/Teck-Nabern, Germany; www.dialog-semiconductor.com), a mixed-signal component and system supplier, has acquired the CMOS imaging business and associated CMOS active-pixel-sensor patent portfolio from Sarnoff Corp. (Princeton, NJ; www.sarnoff.com). Sarnoff will continue its CMOS business in advanced imaging for medical, government, and low-volume applications.
Nikon Instruments Inc. (Melville, NY; www.nikonusa.com), a supplier of precision optics, has appointed Hiro Kusaka president and chief executive officer. Most recently, he was general manager of Nikon Instruments Co. (Tokyo, Japan). The company has also formed a new group—Nikon Semiconductor Inspection Technologies (Phoenix, AZ)—that will offer service, support, and distribution of semiconductor-inspection products.
Photon Dynamics Inc. (San Jose, CA; www.photondynamics.com), a provider of yield-management platforms for the display, electronic, and glass markets, has agreed to acquire the Infrared Screening and Inspection Solutions Division of ART Advanced Research Technologies Inc. (Montreal, QC, Canada), a developer of optical and infrared detection technologies, for $5.5 million.
Viisage Technology Inc. (Littleton, MA; www.viisage.com), a provider of face-recognition technology and identification systems, has appointed Bernard Bailey president and chief executive officer. He was most recently chief operating officer for Art Technology Group.
Lamda Physik Inc. (Fort Lauderdale, FL; www.lambdaphysik.com), a supplier of industrial, medical, and scientific laser sources, has opened a West Coast office in San Diego, CA, headed by Bernhard Nikolaus.
GE Medical Systems (Milwaukee, WI; www.gemedical.com) is donating 200 ultrasound systems, probes, and accessories worth $6.5 million to Assist International (Scotts Valley, CA; www.assistinternational.org), a nonprofit humanitarian organization involved in donating and installing high-technology medical equipment in hospitals and clinics in developing countries.
Marconi Corp. plc (London, UK; www.marconi.com) has sold Marconi Applied Technologies to 3i (London, UK; www.3i.com), an international venture-capital company. The sale includes Marconi operations in North America, Canada, France, and Germany. The Marconi operations have been renamed E2V Technologies Ltd. (Chelmsford, Essex, UK; www.e2v.co.uk) by its new owner.Market visionAccording to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA; San Jose, CA: www.sia-online.org), worldwide sales of semiconductors are expected to increase 3.1% in 2002. Growth is projected to rise to 23.2% in 2003 and 20.9% in 2004 but is estimated to drop sharply to 0.9% to $215 billion in 2005. The Asia-Pacific region is forecast to experience the only regional growth in 2002, with sales increasing 27% to $51 billion.
DisplaySearch (Austin, TX; www.displaysearch.com) reports that LCD monitor shipments increased 17% Q/Q and 222% Y/Y to a record-high 4.74 million units in the first quarter of 2002. LCD monitor shipments are expected to grow 7% in the second quarter of 2002, but slow to 3% in third-quarter 2002.
Dataquest Inc., a unit of Gartner Inc., (San Jose, CA; www.gartner.com), states that worldwide semiconductor-packaging and assembly revenues totaled $2.981 billion in 2001, a 56% drop from 2000 figures. For 2002, revenues are projected to reach $2.715 billion, a 9% decrease from 2001 numbers. The market is expected to rebound in 2003 with revenues of $4.191 billion, a 54% increase over 2002 figures.
North American-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted $1.16 billion in orders in June 2002 and a book-to-bill ratio of 1.28, according to Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI; www.semi.org). The $1.16 million bookings figure is 5% above the revised May 2002 level of $1.11 billion and 59% above the $731 million in orders posted in June 2001. The three-month average of worldwide billings in June 2002 was $906 million. The billings figure is 4% above the revised May 2002 level of $869.6 million.Technology trendsAnalog Devices Inc. (Norwood, MA; www.analog.com) claims to have developed the fastest 12-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC), the AD9430. This monolithic sampling ADC features an on-board track-and-hold circuit; a 64-dB signal-to-noise ratio and a spurious free dynamic range of 80 dBc, both up to 65 MHz at 210 Msamples/s; an integral nonlinearity of 1.5 least significant bit; and a differential nonlinearity of 1 least significant bit.
Corning Tropel Corp., a subsidiary of Corning Inc. (Corning, NY; www.corning.com), claims to have manufactured a lithographic lens with the world's highest resolution. The 15X reduction stepper objective lens projects images onto a treated wafer that becomes the circuitry on a semiconductor. With a numerical aperture of 0.85, the lens can resolve features smaller than 70 nm.
Applied Materials Inc. (Santa Clara, CA; www.appliedmaterials.com) has released its SemVision G2 defect review system for nanometer-generation semiconductor manufacturing that can image and analyze defects as small as 80 nm.
ViewSonic Corp. (Walnut, CA; www.ViewSonic.com) has introduced its VP2290b, a 9.2-Mpixel (27.2 million RGB dots) liquid-crystal display. With a pixel density of 204 pixels/in. and 3840 X 2400-pixel resolution, the 22.1-in.-diagonal display provides a 16:10 aspect ratio, 235 nits of brightness, and 400:1 contrast ratio.
Eastman Kodak Co. (Rochester, NY; www.kodak.com) has unveiled its KAI-0330D interline 1/2-in. CCD image sensor that delivers 120 frames/s and provides a 648 X 484-pixel image in 1/120 s.
Toshiba America Electronic Components (Deerfield, IL; www.toshiba.com) claims to have developed the first large, flexible, liquid-crystal display (LCD), opening the way to the display of images on curved screens and moving toward the long-term goal of foldable LCDs. The new display is a full-color, 8.4-in., slim, low-temperature polysilicon active-matrix TFT LCD supporting SVGA (800 X 600-pixel) resolution. It can be flexed in all directions and bent to form a curve with a radius of curvature as long as 20 cm.
IC Media Corp. (San Jose, CA; www.ic-media.com) has demonstrated its ICM-109T 2-Mpixel CMOS image sensor. This sensor provides 1600 X 1200-pixel resolution, 20 frames/s, correlated double sampling, an 11-bit analog-to-digital converter, a 10-bit raw data output, and dual power voltages.
PPT Vision Inc. (Minneapolis, MN; www.pptvision.com) has introduced its PPT861-SH automated 2- and 3-D inspection system for measuring a range of parameters for semiconductor grid and nongrid-array devices loaded in strip format. Using patented scanning moiré interferometry 3-D technology, the in-line or batch-processing inspection system collects 3-D data for balls and substrates on an entire strip in a single scan.Contracts committedPratt & Whitney (P&W; East Hartford, CT; www.pratt-whitney.com) has contracted Computerized Thermal Imaging Inc. (CTI; Lake Oswego, OR; www.cti-net.com) to incorporate CTI's thermal-imaging technology into a thermal imaging inspection system for checking P&W's aircraft and space propulsion engines and industrial gas turbines.
Robotic Vision Systems Inc. (Canton, MA: www.rvsi.com) has received an order for a WS-2500 bumped-wafer-inspection system from an Asian semiconductor memory manufacturer to perform 2- and 3-D defect inspections.
InVision Technologies Inc. (Newark, CA; www.invisiontech.com) has been awarded contracts worth approximately $13.5 million from the Canadian Aviation Transportation Security Administration and contracts worth $6.6 million from three international airports for CTX 9000DSi in-line automated baggage-screening systems for detecting explosives.
Analogic Corp. (Peabody, MA; www.analogic.com) has placed a $5 million order with Varian Medical Systems (Salt Lake City, UT) for a new line of high-voltage, metal-ceramic x-ray tubes for use in Analogic's Level-2 airport explosives-detection systems.
Viisage Technology (Littleton, MA; www.viisage.com), a face-recognition technology supplier, has been selected to design, develop, and implement a digital driver's license system valued at $3.2 million for the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles.
FLIR Systems Inc. (Portland, OR; www.flir.com) has been awarded a $5.7 million contract by the Naval Inventory Control Point (Philadelphia, PA) to provide spare Star Safire infrared-imaging turret assemblies for the US Marine Corps.' UH-1N Huey helicopters.
American Science and Engineering Inc. (Billerica, MA; www.as-e.com) has received orders worth $4 million for two MobileSearch x-ray systems from the US Department of Defense. The systems will be used to detect weapons, plastic explosives, illegal drugs, and other organic and inorganic contraband.