Third Generation Infrared Focal Plane Arrays based on "HOT" HgCdTe Detectors

Period of Performance: 09/17/2001 - 03/17/2002


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Smart Pixel, Inc.
590 Territorial Drive, Suite B
Bolingbrook, IL 60440
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

University of Illinois, Chicago
809 S Marshfield RM 608
Chicago, IL 60612
Institution POC


HgCdTe infrared arrays operating at 77K can now be tailored to a wide range of wavelengths ranging from 1 to 14 mm. However, the cooling requirements of traditional detectors make them bulky and unsuitable for many applications. Due to advancements in materials and device technologies, it is now possible to fabricate HgCdTe-based infrared arrays operating close to room temperature with sensitivities better than GaAs based image intensifiers and noise equivalent temperature differences (NETD) comparable to or better than bolometric and pyroelectric imaging arrays. We propose a new generation of lightweight, compact, high efficiency infrared focal plane arrays that operate near room temperature. Consequently, very large array formats with minimal power dissipation, payload, and improved image resolution are achievable. This will be an asset to BMDO's missile development programs. The goals will be achieved by i) using the established flexible manufacturing molecular beam epitaxy technology for device quality HgCdTe materials growth on large area silicon substrates, and ii) incorporating novel device architectures including minority carrier exclusion and extraction to achieve a nonequilibrium mode of operation. This will enhance the minority carrier lifetime and consequently increase the operating temperatures. It will be possible to produce rugged, low-cost, large area `HOT' focal plane arrays.Significant potential exists for optoelectronic and microelectronic applications in the military, space, communication, medical, and automobile industries. Buick, BMW have already implemented infrared sensors in their latest cars and many other companies are expected to follow.