Friday, September 02, 2022

EETimes Europe article on emergence of consumer and automotive SWIR imaging

An article in EETimes Europe from August 24, 2022 argues that huge changes are happening in the consumer and automotive SWIR imaging industry. Some excerpts below.

How Smartphones Will Disrupt the SWIR Imaging Industry

August 24, 2022 Axel Clouet and Eric Mounier

Sensing SWIR radiation requires imagers based on other materials, making them orders of magnitude more expensive than silicon-based imagers. Therefore, SWIR’s use today is limited to specific applications in defense, industry, or research.

... [A] pull from the consumer market is inspiring unprecedented changes in the SWIR industry, with the emergence of new technologies and the entrance of game-changing players who may enable market and technology disruption.

A newer technology, based on quantum dots (QDs), is emerging as a lower-cost alternative to InGaAs. ... with a manufacturing process that is compatible with CMOS, allowing cost reductions by orders of magnitude.

QD technology is still emerging, with the first commercial products released in 2018 for the industry by SWIR Vision Systems.

SWIR’s technology development will be accelerated by the entrance of game-changing players: Sony released its first commercial SWIR imager in 2020, and in 2021, STMicroelectronics announced the development of SWIR imagers based on QDs. ... [both are] leading companies in the consumer and automotive silicon-based imaging industry. Sony introduced a manufacturing method based on copper-to-copper bonding, inherited from its know-how in silicon-based imaging, to make InGaAs SWIR imagers. STMicroelectronics published initial results for its SWIR imagers based on QD technology ... demonstrated high sensitivity, optimized at about 1.4 ┬Ám.

[Yole Intelligence] expect[s] the number of industrial cameras to increase significantly in the coming years, thanks to price decreases linked to QD technology penetration and the introduction of new manufacturing processes for InGaAs. These segments could represent a US$828 million market in 2027 at the camera level.

[Since] an artificial SWIR source needs to be used in combination with the imaging system. The SWIR source market should therefore benefit from the growth of the SWIR imaging market. SWIR edge-emitting diode lasers (EELs) are widely used today in the telecommunications market, ... SWIR vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) should strongly benefit from the emerging consumer and automotive SWIR markets.

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