3D | New architecture to achieve higher resolutions in IR imaging

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David Billon-Lanfrey, CSO in charge of Strategy, Corporate Communication and Technology at Lynred © Lynred

Lynred, a global leader in designing and manufacturing high-quality infrared technologies for aerospace, defense and commercial markets,  joined the Nanoelec consortium in May 2020. David Billon-Lanfrey, CSO in charge of Strategy, Corporate Communication and Technology at Lynred, explains some of the advantages that working with IRT Nanoelec will bring.

Lynred has primarily joined Nanoelec to work on imaging developments. Are the projects you’ll be working on specifically about infrared (IR) technology?

We specialize in infrared technology. That encompasses a very broad spectrum of technical solutions and applications designed for a very diverse range of sectors, including space imaging, thermographic imaging, defense systems and driverless vehicles. Lynred’s IR sensors are critical components used by many of the major players in the commercial thermal imaging sector in Europe, Asia and North America.

While maintaining our positioning in infrared imaging, we are keen to leverage key developments in a much wider market, that of visible-light imaging. This is our aim in working in collaboration with Nanoelec.

What are the challenges and obstacles you are facing in terms of the technology and component modeling?

Like many developers in the electronic sector, and especially in the field of imaging, we take the ‘More Than Moore’ approach. That’s the historical trend. Our first goal, therefore, is to reduce pixel pitch on our imagers so that we can achieve higher resolution images. We can use 3D architecture to help us achieve higher resolutions.

This should also enable us to integrate new smart signal processing functions, at pixel level, as well as to produce lighter, more compact imagers.  Thanks to 3D stacking architecture, we will be able to diversify the range of applications and markets for our solutions.

CMOS technology cannot be directly transposed for infrared applications, notably because our imagers are cooled, usually to –150°C, and this is not the case for components used in applications that are more conventional. Another major difference compared to visible light imagers is that most electronic components are produced on 300 mm silicon wafers, the most widely-used industry standard, whereas our components are produced on 100 mm or even smaller wafers.

As you can see from these examples, we need some R&D to adapt the cutting-edge 3D technology developed in the frame of the IRT Nanoelec to our needs.

What attracted you to the multipartner environment at Nanoelec?

We see it as essential to maintain close links with the innovation ecosystem in the field of microelectronics. Nanoelec provides a great environment for pursuing R&D with the different partners working within that ecosystem. Innovation is the key to being able to build and develop new competitive advantages in a market increasingly dominated by players in the USA and Asia.

Is Nanoelec also likely to open up new markets for your products?

By integrating image-processing functions within the sensor, we hope to create imaging solutions with high benefit for our customers in extremely demanding markets in terms of product performance, from military aeronautics to driverless vehicles. For example, for next-generation fighter jets, this would provide longer-range imaging for reconnaissance missions, and improve self-protect and threat-detection systems. For the next generation of vehicles, this will improve safety, even in poor visibility conditions such as darkness and fog.