A low-cost uncooled infrared detector array and its camera electronics

Akçören, Dinçay
This thesis presents the development of integrated readout electronics for diode type microbolometers and development of external camera electronics for microbolometers. The developed readout electronics are fabricated with its integrated 160x120 resolution FPA (Focal Plane Array) in the XFAB SOI-CMOS 1.0 μm process. The pixels in the FPA have 70 μm pixel pitch, and they are sensitive in the 8–12 μm band of the infrared spectrum. Each pixel has 4 serially connected diodes, and diode turn on voltage changes as the temperature of the suspended and thermally isolated pixel increases due to the absorbed infrared power. Suspension of the pixels is obtained with a post-CMOS MEMS etching process, but this process requires no critical litography and/or deposition steps. This dramatically reduces the detector process cost, which makes this microbolometer FPA suitable for ultra low-cost applications such as automobile, security, and commercial applications. The readout electronics of the FPA include digital blocks such as timing and programming blocks as well as analog blocks such as a differential trans-conductance amplifier, a switched capacitor integrator, a sampleand- hold, and current DACs. This new readout design has reduced number of pins to simplify the external electronics and allows wafer-level vacuum packaging compared to the 128x128 FPA developed in a previous study at METU with the same approach. Both of these features further decrease the cost. Two kinds of external camera electronics are developed for two SOI type microbolometers. The first one is for the 128x128 SOI microbolometer previously designed in METU. The developed external camera electronics have 1.5mVrms noise, which is much less than the microbolometer noise. The overall system has an average NETD of 465 mK and a peak NETD of 320mK. The second developed external camera electronics are for the 160x120 SOI microbolometers that developed in the scope of this thesis. The developed external camera electronics has 0.55mVrms noise which is much less than the bolometer noise which is 5mVrms. The overall system has an average NETD of 820 mK and a peak NETD of 350 mK. Each of these external camera electronics include a custom designed PCB, an FPGA board with appropiate configurion and a software working on a PC. The custom designed PCB holds the external components for the microbolometer, an FPGA takes and processes the bolometer data and it sends to a PC, and a PC processes these data and forms a streaming video. These two external camera electronics allow to obtain human images verifying that the developed microbolometers can be used for security and automotive applications.