Triple wavelength superspectral camera focal-plane array (SUPERCAMERA)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Engineering

Abstract

Optical imaging is perhaps the single most important sensor modality in use today. Its use is widespread in consumer, medical, commercial and defence technologies. The most striking development of the last 20 years has been the emergence of digital imaging using complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology. Because CMOS is scalable, camera technology has benefited from Moore's law reduction in transistor size so that it is now possible to buy cameras with more than 10 MegaPixels for £50. The same benefits are beginning to emerge in other imaging markets - most notably in infrared imaging where 64x64 pixel thermal cameras can be bought for under £1000. Far infrared (FIR), or terahertz, imaging is now emerging as a vital modality with application to biomedical and security imaging, but early imaging arrays are still only few pixel research ideas and prototypes that we are currently investigating.
There has been no attempt to integrate the three different wavelength sensors coaxially on to the same chip. Sensor fusion is already widespread whereby image data from traditional visible and mid infrared (MIR) sensors is overlaid to provide a more revealing and data rich visualisation. Image fusion permits discrepancies to be identified and comparative processing to be performed. Our aim is to create a "superspectral" imaging chip. By superspectral we mean detection in widely different bands, as opposed to the discrimination of many wavelengths inside a band - e.g. red, green and blue in the visible band. We will use "More than Moore" microelectronic technology as a platform. By doing so, we will leverage widely available low-cost CMOS to build new and economically significant technologies that can be developed and exploited in the UK. There are considerable challenges to be overcome to make such technology possible. We will hybridise two semiconductor systems to integrate efficient photodiode sensors for visible and MIR detection. We will integrate boletric sensing for FIR imaging. We will use design and packaging technologies for thermal isolation and to optimise the performance of each sensor type. We will use hybridised metamaterial and surface plasmon resonance technologies to optimise wavelength discrimination allowing vertical stacking of physically large (i.e. FIR) sensors with visible and MIR sensors.

We ultimate want to demonstrate the world's first ever super-spectral camera.

Planned Impact

We will achieve both academic and KT impact from this project. All the investigators and their teams have an excellent track record in engagement with academic peers and in writing high quality papers that are published in leading journals. Similarly, the team members frequently attend and participate in the organisation of international conferences, ensuring rapid dissemination of work to the peer community.
We have industrial support in this project from 5 UK companies with a strong interest in imaging and sensor technologies, manufacturing technology and in electronics design and implementation. Gas Sensing Solutions (GSS) Ltd are a leading supplier of IR sensors. GSS will support the project experimentally and in an advisory capacity to a value of £140.8k. Selex are a world-leading supplier of electro-optic technologies. They have historically devoted much of their effort to the defence sector, but are now seeking new commercial opportunities. Selex are already funding research for future commercial sensor technologies in Glasgow, illustrating their belief in the knowledge transfer and research capabilities of the University. Plessey has extensive IP for the defence and security market and have entered into strategic alliance with Glasgow University. Their commitment to building on that relationship via this project is the provision to legacy CMOS foundry (0.35 micron) technology as required. The technology is ideal for our prototyping activity, and we may well pave the way for rapid IP transfer in the future. Plessey will support the project experimentally and in kind to a value of £100k. STMIcroelectronics in Edinburgh were the originator of the CMOS focal plane array and have a legacy of pioneering technology for image sensing. They are primarily interested in visible and IR imaging, but want to fully engage with the vision of the project. STMicroelectronics will also provide CASE support to a parallel funded DTA studentship that we will incorporate to the project. In total STMicroelectrics will support the project to a value of £90k. Logitech are the world-leader in wafer thinning and polishing for the semiconductors. Based near Glasgow they will provide their expertise in wafer thinning to a value of £165k enabling integration and packaging.
We do not anticipate that any one of these companies would want to commercialise the technology as a product by themselves. We therefore want to develop our own commercial spin-out opportunity. The companies we are working with will therefore operate as service providers and serve several functions in the overall product value chain. We will work with, e.g. EPSRC, TSB, Scottish Enterprise and GU's business development team in the follow-on stages of the project. This approach is appropriate since the funders aligned to economic development (e.e. TSB and SE) have identified nanotechnologies, electronic, photonic and sensor technologies as areas where the UK has the potential for new high growth business development.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description New THz and MIR imager technology
New methods of integration using nano photonics
Exploitation Route New focal plane arrays for imaging.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Electronics

 
Description We are actively pursuing follow on funding (e.g. InnovateUK) in collaboration with several companies. We have completed a feasibility study with a global company developing sensors for the agriculture market.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Electronics
Impact Types Economic

 
Title CMOS Compatible Metamaterial Absorbers for Hyperspectral MWIR Imaging and Sensing Applications 
Description This dataset includes simulation data, experimental data, images of the fabricated structures and all the data used to make the figures in both the main article and supplementary information. Access to the file 'Lumerical_FDTD_Simulations.zip' (9GB) can be requested by clicking the 'Request Data' button above. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Title Multi-Spectral materials: hybridisation of optical plasmonic filters, a mid infrared metamaterial absorber and a terahertz metamaterial absorber 
Description  
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Title Octave-Spanning Broadband Absorption of Terahertz Light using Metasurface Fractal-Cross Absorbers 
Description  
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Title Terahertz Metamaterial Absorbers implemented in CMOS Technology for Imaging Applications: Scaling to 64x64 Focal Plane Array Formats 
Description  
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Title Terahertz imagers based on metamaterial structures monolithically integrated in standard CMOS technologies 
Description Data underpinning the associated publication. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Title Uncooled CMOS terahertz imager using a metamaterial absorber and pn diode 
Description  
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Title Video-rate Terahertz digital holographic imaging system 
Description  
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Description CSTG 
Organisation Compound Semiconductor Technologies Global
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have completed the research into a novel III-V imaging technology and are now in discussion with CSTG about conversion to a manufacturable technology.
Collaborator Contribution CST is helping to prepare an application to InnovateUK
Impact We have completed an NDA and targeting upcoming InnovateUK deadlines.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Gas Sensing Solutions 
Organisation Gas Sensing Solutions
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution growth of novel semiconductor layers
Collaborator Contribution Assistance with layer design and characterisation
Impact We are developing an InnovateUK proposal based on the work we have done on novel III-V imaging arrays
Start Year 2013
 
Description Leonardo (Imaging) 
Organisation Selex ES
Department SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Design of novel image sensor technology in the THz, MIR and visible bands
Collaborator Contribution Regular meetings and invitations to give talks in the company
Impact We are in discussion about new funding opportunities for commercialisation of research via the Quantum Imaging Hub
Start Year 2013
 
Description Lockheed Martin 
Organisation Lockheed Martin
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Evaluation of THz technology for use in agricultural markets
Collaborator Contribution Financial and project management support for project. Access to data on quadcopter technology. Site visits. Report writing.
Impact Ongoing collaboration and discussion about technologies at GU
Start Year 2016
 
Title METHOD OF FABRICATING A MONOLITHIC SENSOR DEVICE FROM A LAYERED STRUCTURE 
Description A method of fabricating a field-effect transistor in which a native oxide layer is removed prior to etching a gate recess. The cleaning step ensures that the etch of the gate recess starts at the same time across an entire sample, such that a uniform gate recess depth and profile can be achieved across an array of field-effect transistors. This results in a highly uniform switch-off voltage for the field-effect transistors in the array. 
IP Reference WO2018224403 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2018
Licensed No
Impact Stimulated research with industry that is still underway. New funding is being sought.
 
Title Terahertz radiation detector focal plane array incorporating terahertz detector, multispectral metamaterial, and combined optical filter and terahertz absorber 
Description A CMOS based focal plane for terahertz imaging using a focal plane array. The array uses metamaterials to enhance sensitivity to terahertz whilst also allowing transmission at other wavelengths so that sensors for other wavelengths can be incorporated on to the same chip. 
IP Reference US9513171 
Protection Patent granted
Year Protection Granted 2016
Licensed Commercial In Confidence
Impact Collaboration with industry on photonics technologies
 
Description National showcase event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Demonstration and display stand at the annual Quantum Technologies showcase event, Westminster.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://uknqt.epsrc.ac.uk/news-and-events/events/