Yole Developpement publishes "Infrared imaging: Uncooled infrared imaging technology & market trends report". The market experienced a strong downturn in 2012: though total shipments slightly increased by + 1%, overall revenue fell by 12% to $1,824M, mainly due to the weakness of the military market. A shift toward commercial higher volume markets is predicted in 2013-2018:
The major manufacturers (FLIR, DRS, Raytheon, ULIS, GWIC) have now moved to 8” production lines from 6” to reduce wafer cost. Several have even outsourced their production to foundries to further reduce production cost. These two elements are preliminary signs of a steep microbolometer cost reduction that will open up cost driven applications such as smartphones.
The major trend is to move to wafer level manufacturing of both imager and optics to maximize benefits of high volume manufacturing. Secondly, a race toward shrinking pixel pitch is on-going. All microbolometer manufacturers focus on developing a 12µm pixel, improving sensitivity enough to reach the 50mK target.