Imagic Earlier Editorials

Editorial September 2012: XCounter

2012-09-18

XCounter develops and manufactures high performance direct conversion x-ray detector solutions for applications in the medical, dental and industrial area.

Based on over 15 years of experience XCounter are now developing the next generation photon counting high speed solid state detector platform which will provide completely new imaging possibilities. The detectors operate in single photon counting mode and are capable of discriminating multiple energy levels which allows for “color” x-ray imaging. This technology promises unsurpassed image quality at the lowest possible dose.

All our current detectors use CdTe or CdZnTe as converters from x-rays to charge. In order to get more flexibility and optimizations for different applications we are constantly looking for possible alternatives.

For this purpose IMAGIC gives XCounter access to state of the art equipment and know how to develop and test new X-ray detector materials based on for example GaAs.

 

Christer Ullberg
CTO
XCounter AB
www.xcounter.se


Editorial April 2012: IMAGIC – a success story

2012-05-02

IMAGIC has now been under way for almost 6 years. During this time, its activities have increased in scale and scope, as imaging technologies for non-visible wavelengths have become ever more in demand. The market demand for improvements in the more traditional x-ray and thermal infrared (IR) imaging technologies has been supplemented by requirements for relatively new technologies such as terahertz (THz) imaging and 3D imaging at near-IR wavelengths. IMAGIC has kept pace with these developments, with the addition of THz and 3D imaging technologies to its original portfolio.

One of IMAGICs goals has been identification of three technologies developed within the Centre that can be productified within the near future. This has now been achieved with the development of:

  • a novel bolometer technology for low-cost thermal IR imaging.
  • an improved technology for high performance thermal IR imaging.
  • a novel method for production of an x-ray detector with improved definition.

The close co-operation between Acreo and the member companies promoted by the Centre has been crucial in achieving this goal.

During its lifetime, IMAGIC has expanded from the original seven company members to the present twelve, which has enabled a more intensive activity in some technical areas. Work on x-ray detection, for example has increased in both scope and scale, with the addition of new materials and new techniques.

IMAGIC has also become known as a meeting place for the optoelectronics community through its yearly public conference, the IMAGIC Seminar Days. Fuelled by an ever-increasing number of attendees, this event has expanded over the years in both size and ambition, from the original one-day event to the present two-day event with poster session and industrial exhibition. Invited international speakers provide a worldwide overview of relevant technical areas, and help to put IMAGIC on the international map.

Economical support in its present form from Vinnova, KKS and SSF will cease at the end of 2012. But planning is under way on methods to hold the IMAGIC industrial and university group together, so that they can continue to work together and benefit each other in a way that would never be possible without the close relationship that exists through the Centre. It is our aim that IMAGIC will continue over the coming years to develop challenging new technologies for the benefit of industry and through this the general community.

 

Jan Andersson
(IMAGIC manager) 

Susan Savage
(IMAGIC deputy manager)


Editorial November, 2011: Sensonor Technologies AS

2011-11-24

When size, performance and robustness matter!
Sensonor Technologies AS is a producer and developer of MEMS sensors for over 25 years. Over 300 million sensors have been manufactured during the last 8 years. The main product area today is Inertia with several gyro products available, the latest named STIM210. Development of additional Inertia products and detectors for infrared imaging is ongoing. Sensonor has 140 employees and is localized in Vestfold, Norway, with offices and fabs in Horten (front-end) and at Skoppum (back-end).

Sensonor will introduce uncooled and TEC (Thermo-Electric-Cooler) less bolometer focal plane arrays (FPA's) for High Precision applications. The product is named SB100 and has a spatial resolution of 384*288 pixels.

The solution is based on a unique Si/SiGe mono-crystalline quantum well structure used as the temperature-sensing (thermistor) membrane of the pixels. The quantum well technology is licensed from Acreo. The TCR (temperature coefficient of resistance) of this material surpasses today's available technologies and at the same time the mono-crystalline grain boundary free material secures superior 1/f noise performance. This novel pixel technology is coupled with Sensonor's wafer bonding experience to offer the combination of the best signal-noise ratio and the best reliability at the lowest cost.

The market for uncooled microbolometers will grow significantly during the next years. Analysts predict a yearly increase of greater than 30% for a period of more than 5 years.

The production facilities at Sensonor have been equipped and prepared with the process integration tooling required to produce the FPA at high volumes (>500k year). This is twice the number of detectors made in 2010 worldwide.

Sensonor has a close cooperation with Acreo to optimize the bolometer technology and both parties are as well involved in common EU funded programs assisting in bringing this innovative solution into volume in several industries.


Editorial May, 2011: SAAB AB

2011-05-23

Saab constantly develops, adopts and improves new technology to meet changing customer needs. Saab serves the global market of governments, authorities and corporations with products,

Saab is a company with a long history from different technology companies that over time have been accumulated into the Saab AB that exists today. Saab was and is dependent on different forms of new technology to be able to sustain and expand business in a healthy way.

By sponsoring and participating in different forums like IMAGIC, Saab can both gain and give knowledge which is fruitful for both Saab and other participating companies and organizations. Last but not least, the possibility of networking within the respective forum is attractive. 

Saab is a relatively large company, working in different market domains with a broad range of products. This editorial relates especially to the product technology line of Command and Control Systems (C2S).

Combat Management Systems and Fire Control Systems are core businesses within C2S. The performance of these kinds of systems can often be measured in terms of types of functionality, response time, sensor ability, reliability/safety, interface flexibility and accuracy.

The example of a part of a Fire Control System, shown in the picture, shows a stabilized platform with sensors for naval applications. The platform is configured with 2 radar channels, TV-camera, laser range finder and IR-camera.

The environment that the above mentioned system works within can be very demanding and challenging. Typically the objects that a Fire Control System tries to detect and identify are very uncooperative, meaning that objects try to remain undetected or at least unidentified. To counteract this, one way ahead is to refine sensor performance, or find new types of sensors or combination of sensors. To be in the forefront and also be there for an extended period of time, Saab needs to be very attentive to new possibilities in sensor design, and in some cases take its own initiatives.

IMAGIC gives Saab one of the opportunities to be in the forefront.

 

Nils-Ola Svensson
Director HW
Command and Control Systems
Business Area Security and Defence Solutions


Editorial February, 2011: Scint-X

2011-02-07

Scint-X AB develops a novel x-ray scintillation technology, patented by two of its founders, KTH professors Sture Petersson and Jan Linnros.

The X-ray evolution has over the years gone through a transition from analog X-ray using photographic film to digital X-ray detectors using pixel sensor arrays like CMOS imaging sensors or CCD’s. Digital x-ray imaging is becoming increasingly important in material analysis, non destructive testing and in various medical applications. This transition, however, is not without its difficulties. Dental x-ray sensor resolution is still not on par with analog x-ray film.

The combination of silicon-based imaging sensors and scintillators (converting x-rays into visible light) is a cost-effective and common technique used for digital x-ray sensors. Even though today’s imaging sensors are capable of very high resolution, the performance of the x-ray detector system is largely limited by lateral light spreading in the scintillator.

Scint-X products are structured scintillators for applications where high resolution is important. The patented technology is based on advanced silicon processing techniques for device manufacturing; DRIE (Deep Reactive Ion Etching) is used for etching deep pores in silicon with very high precision. The pores are filled with scintillating material, acting as waveguides and leading the light to the right pixel in the imaging sensor. Thereby, lateral light spreading is avoided.

The market for X-ray imaging detectors is large and major application areas are medical, industrial and scientific instruments. One example of medical applications requiring high resolution is dental imaging. Industrial applications are non-destructive testing (NDT) and quality control. Scientific instruments employing X-ray imaging detectors are for example found in the fields of X-ray crystallography, X-ray astronomy and X-ray microscopy.

IMAGIC gives Scint-x access to state-of-the art equipment and know-how for DRIE-etching, which is a mission critical technique in the manufacturing process for Scint-X scintillator products.

Furthermore, IMAGIC lets us connect with people possessing valuable know-how in the field of detector physics and technology.

 

Per Wiklund
VP Sales & Marketing
Scint-X AB
www.scint-x.com


Editorial Sept, 2010: IRnova

2010-09-10

IRnova develops and manufactures Long Wave Quantum Well Infrared Photodetectors (QWIP) and supplies these to infrared system and camera manufacturers all over the world. The production is carried out in the Electrum laboratory in Kista, Sweden.

In order to better address the needs of the market, IRnova has moved up the value chain and recently launched two IDDCAs (Integral Detector Dewar Cooler Assembly). Such a module is needed to achieve the temperature of –200 °C required for the detectors to function. IRnova has more than ten years track record of delivering high quality detectors, first as a department of Acreo and since April 2007 as an independent company.

In order to remain competitive and also address new industrial market segments, such as gas detection and non-destructive testing, IRnova is also carrying out research and development on other technologies, most notably T2SL (antimonide based type two strained superlattices). We expect T2SL based detectors to have a better quantum efficiency and higher operating temperature than current QWIPs for long wavelength IR. In addition, T2SL can be tailored for other wavelengths, and we anticipate that this new technology will give us the opportunity to enter the medium wavelength IR market!

To take a new technology from research to a product ready for the market involves many different disciplines, from growth of the detector material itself to semiconductor processing, advanced material characterization methods and electro/optical characterization. Becoming a partner in IMAGIC is the natural step on this route. As a member of IMAGIC, IRnova has access to competent resources and analysis equipment that are crucial for the success of the T2SL activity.

Furthermore IMAGIC gives us the possibility to follow closely a new exciting idea for IR imaging: the dot-to-bulk (D2B) concept. Let’s see what new opportunities this concept will create!

 

Henk Martijn
CTO
IRnova AB
www.ir-nova.se


Editorial May, 2010: NOTE

2010-05-24

NOTE is one of the leading EMS * / CEM * companies in Scandinavia with contract manufacturing units in Sweden, Norway, Finland, United Kingdom, the Baltic States, Poland and China. NOTE has approximately 1 000 employees, approximately 500 of whom work in Sweden.

Our business idea is to make our customer more successful by offering electronics manufacturing services from the design phase to after-sales in close cooperation with the customer.

Several of the products we are manufacturing share one important technologic element. This is the integration of different sensors into the rest of the electronics. Some examples of the sensors NOTE is working with today are different types of imaging, x-ray, gas and pressure sensors.

Through the use of knowledge from conventional surface mounting techniques for manufacturing PCBs, together with techniques aimed at semiconductor assembly, NOTE believes sensor integration can be made smarter than it is today. The cooperation with IMAGIC provides NOTE with access to both high competence and advanced technology within different assembly techniques. Further, NOTE has opened its own lab for research within the IMAGIC project, in order to conduct experiments close to regular serial production.

Today, we are mainly running two projects within IMAGIC. The first is to study a new bump technique for flip-chip. By the use of this technique, we are able to manufacture bumps with 100um pitch using similar pick & place methods to ordinary surface mounting. The next step will be to study high frequency performance. The other project is integration of x-ray detectors directly to a PCB-board without disturbing the signal.

NOTE always strives to determine which assembly technology its customers will need tomorrow. It is through close cooperation with its research partners that NOTE gains access to this information. And this is the greatest benefit of participating in the IMAGIC Centre.

* EMS = electronics manufacturing services

* CEM = contract electronics manufacturer

Anders Söderbärg
Research director, NOTE AB
www.note.se


Editorial October, 2009: ScandiDos

2009-10-27

Background
The mission of ScandiDos is to provide new quality control solutions in order to meet new demands in cancer radiotherapy. These solutions enable easy implementation of the latest treatment technology by making QA as fast and accurate as possible.

Modern radiotherapy of cancer includes dynamic dose delivery while the beam projection changes during delivery, VMAT (Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy). Traditional 2D integrating measurement devices are not sufficient to handle this, 4D (volume and time resolved) measurement devices being required instead. The demands on detector technology, electronics and application software increases dramatically and much more sophisticated solutions are required than in the past.

ScandiDos in IMAGIC
The detector demands for measuring MV x-rays accurately are traditionally dose linearity, dose per pulse linearity, no or small signal dependence on temperature change, long term stability (radiation hard), energy independent signal etc. When moving into detection in 3D, isotropy becomes very important. Single detectors are available on the market with high isotropy, but arrays do not have the same accuracy and they are normally off by 10-15% over a revolution. The isotropy depends not only on the detector but also on the packaging.

To meet these new criteria and coming applications, ScandiDos has joined the IMAGIC centre of excellence to develop next generation detectors for MV radiation beams. At this stage (October 2009) a first version of the detector has been developed and is already in commercial use in the system Delta4 provided by ScandiDos, which is known to be outstanding on the new VMAT market.

The follow-up, now under development within IMAGIC, is a detector that further improves measurement accuracy to meet even more challenging tasks on the market of radiation therapy. In the project, know-how from various technologies are merged together to solve new challenges.

 

Görgen Nilsson,
President and CEO,
ScandiDos AB
www.scandidos.se


Editorial April, 2009: Zarlink

2009-04-21

The Zarlink Optical Product group is continuing the long tradition of manufacturing optoelectronic devices, that was originated by HAFO some 50 years ago. Products have covered single and array devices in the infrared region for space, industrial and commercial use. Today’s focus is on 850 nm devices for high speed optical data communication.

A paradigm shift: From copper cables to active optical cables

There is a paradigm shift ongoing just in front of us regarding technology for high speed short reach interconnect. The ever increasing need for internet bandwidth has driven data storage, server halls and computer clusters to finally face the change from copper based short reach cables to optical short reach communication. The shift occurs when data rates around 5-10 Gbit/s are needed, where copper cables finally have to give in. Copper is now challenged by low cost AOC’s, Active Optical Cables. These cables have an electrical interface at each end, but have an internal laser-fiber-detector function built into the cable. A copper cable can be directly replaced by an AOC.

At Zarlink we were very early to develop and produce the industry’s first generation of AOC for the short reach market. However, the challenge of competing with copper technology is very tough. There is a high demand on the VCSEL-fiber-PIN performance, with low jitter, and good reliability. Apart from this, the cost has to be driven down by a factor of 3-5 compared to previous typical high end optical module technology. So, how is this possible to achieve?

Enter IMAGIC

We are constantly seeking the very best assembly methods and building practices for combining optical devices with driver and detector electronics and fiber attach. Within IMAGIC we all face the great need of efficiently assembling and connecting the electronics to our imaging detectors or transmitters, irrespective of our different products. New techniques enabling low cost, large volume production is a must. It is here that we find it important to work with IMAGIC, where new optoelectronic building concepts can be developed and tested outside of our own capabilities. With current market input expressed by the members, together with innovation, we all have the possibility to reach relevant new low cost assembly solutions for our next generation optoelectronic and imaging products.

 

Ivar Hamberg
Fab Manager
Zarlink Optical Products Group


Editorial February, 2009: Autoliv

2009-02-09

Previously, the emphasis on traffic injury mitigation has been on systems that reduce the effects of an accident, such as seat belts, airbags and energy absorbing vehicle structures. The starting point has been the actual impact time. Many of the car manufacturer’s cars are equipped with airbags, seatbelts and other protecting devises produced by Autoliv. Anyone buying a new car takes for granted that the vehicle has these features installed to protect the people in the event of an accident. Such protection systems are referred to as passive systems.

However, an increasing focus is being given to systems that act to avoid, or reduce the consequences of an accident. Such active safety systems interpret signals from various sensors to help the driver control the vehicle, or even take control by such functions as preparing the brakes of the car or even autonomously apply the brakes or steering. Long Wave Infrared technology is one active safety sensing technology especially suitable for addressing the visibility problems associated with night time driving and the injury risk to Vulnerable Road Users (VRU) such as pedestrians and cyclists.

In 2005 Autoliv’s Night Vision System was introduced to the market on BMW 7-series. Based on a long wave infrared camera it made it possible for the driver to extend his vision during night driving and detect animals and pedestrians running into the road. This increased the safety for the people in the car and it also increased the safety for other VRU

VRU are in focus today and in consumer testing like Euro NCAP (Europe New Car Assessment Programme) protection of pedestrians will give the car extra credits like a star. Today this is achieved by more forgiving design of the car fronts or by hood lifters or other means to reduce the injuries to the pedestrians. In the future, avoiding accidents with pedestrians may also give an extra star or other credit to the cars, and the automotive market is going in that direction

In 2008 the second generation of Autoliv’s Night Vision system was launched by BMW. It has an enhanced functionality with a pedestrian warning system.  An algorithm analyses the pictures from the long wave infrared camera and warns the driver if there is a risk of an accident with a pedestrian. Volvo has announced, in Detroit 2008, that in the future their cars will be equipped with autonomous braking to avoid pedestrian accidents.

The automotive industry is always cost driven and Autoliv’s vision to substantially reduce traffic accidents, fatalities and injuries require that the cost of these infrared systems must be reduced in order to enable fitment also in the more inexpensive models.

The efforts and the competence within IMAGIC is an important contributor making it possible to develop a low cost long wave infrared camera for widespread use in the near future. IMAGIC therefore contribute to Autoliv’s core business of making our traffic environment a safer place.

 

Dick Eriksson
Research Engineer
Autoliv Development AB


Editorial December, 2008: OptoNova

2008-12-11

As the company name OptoNova indicates we are devoted to continuously exploring new possibilities to solve our customer’s tasks. That’s why we successfully have introduced some market leading image sensor based products for automatic on-line inspection in production processes.

Vision technology is one key for achieving cost effective mass production of high quality products. As an example IKEA has in Hultsfred built the first furniture factory in the world with fully automatic inspection. Every surface, edge and hole of every furniture board will be inspected with Quality Inspector systems from OptoNova. IKEA will gain a low cost production of 2.6 millions of PAX wardrobes PAX each year.

Aesthetic product properties; “the look” of a product, is mainly controlled by vision systems using visible light. It can e.g. be checking color or gloss as well as detection of different kinds of surface defects. A deep knowledge of how light interacts with surfaces together with vision technology and image processing are key areas for good results.

Functional product properties can be controlled by several optical techniques involving visible as well as non visible light. Traditionally, due to cost and availability, silicon based image sensors are dominating also here. But there are several inspection tasks where non-visible wavelength imaging will do a better job. That’s why we participate in the IMAGIC excellence center.

Today we are benefiting from the use of the smart image sensor technology invented by Professor Robert Forchheimer from Linköping University. If the IMAGIC efforts will succeed in the development of new image sensor technology, we will find tasks and customers.

Increased performance and/or lower prices are wanted in areas such as:

  • X-ray imaging for checking inner quality of logs, fuel rods for the nuclear industry….
  • Infrared spectroscopy for on-line surface monitoring.
  • Multi sensory web inspection.
  • UV photometry for analyzing drink and waste water.

And there is much more to be invented!

 

Hans Åhlén
Sales Manager
OptoNova AB


Editorial June, 2008: FLIR Systems

2008-06-10

FLIR Systems is the global leader in Infrared cameras, night vision and thermal imaging systems. Our products play pivotal roles in a wide range of industrial, commercial and government activities in more than 60 countries.

Pioneers in the commercial infrared camera industry, the Company has been supplying thermography and night vision equipment to science, industry, law enforcement and the military for over 30 years. From predictive maintenance, condition monitoring, non-destructive testing, R&D, medical science, temperature measurement and thermal testing to law enforcement, surveillance, security and manufacturing process control, FLIR offers the widest selection of infrared cameras for beginners to pros.

Hence, we supply systems for numerous applications in many different environments. In order to provide the best solution for each application we need to make the right choices in the technology we use. One of the most important pieces of the puzzle is the choice of detector for the IR system. It is therefore of utmost importance for FLIR that we not only monitor, but also have access to, new leading edge detector technology as it becomes available.

Participating in an excellence center like IMAGIC not only lets us study many interesting new pieces of technology up front, but also lets us share knowledge and ideas with others in a way that paves the way for new unique products. We believe that synergies from participation in IMAGIC will benefit FLIR as well as other parts of Swedish industry. It is therefore with great anticipation that we continue our investment in the future together with IMAGIC.

Torbjörn Carlnäs
Development Manager
FLIR Systems AB


Editorial January, 2008: Optronic

2008-01-17

Imaging techniques continuously grow in importance for industrial sensors and these types of applications require robust and well-adapted sensors suited for the special needs. As techniques utilizing non-visible wavelengths are getting more mature and cheaper they open up for countless new possibilities for industrial applications.

At the two-day conference Sweden Optics 2007, arranged by Optronic in Skellefteå this late autumn, it was clear to see the great industrial interest in the field of optics and imaging. During the first day the conference was situated at one of the biggest hotels in Skellefteå, where close to 170 visitors met. The attendees of the conference were a mixture of representatives from the business- and industrial world and researchers from the big universities in Sweden. The program was intense and covered everything from space-research to mining industry.

The following day the conference moved to Campus Skellefteå, with lectures from e.g Hans Hentzell (ACREO) and there was also a panel discussion at the end of the day. One of the topics that the panel discussed was the apparent need to make optics trade more visible. Today there are several important industries in Sweden that would profit from optics applications. Two large sectors that are already using and are dependent on optical techniques are the process industry and biomedicine, although this is not communicated through the media.

At Optronic we follow the research in optics and especially within IMAGIC with great interest. We recognize the potential in developing a large number of technologies and products that will be beneficial for the Swedish industry.

 

Emil Hällstig
Research Co-ordinator
Optronic AB


Editorial October, 2007: Saab Bofors Dynamics

2007-10-05

For the military, imaging at nonvisible wavelengths has been used since the 1960’s. It is primarily the infrared spectrum that has been used because it provides visibility in conditions such as total darkness and smoke. An advantage is that warm objects stand out against a colder background, which often coincides with what is important in a military application, e.g. aircrafts, vehicles, or persons.

The recent development of uncooled infrared sensors has opened up new application areas for infrared sensors. Traditional infrared sensors used detectors cooled to –200 °C in order to achieve low enough noise levels to produce satisfactory imagery. Use of exotic materials and cooling machines caused the sensor systems to be so expensive that only the very high-end applications could come into question. The lower cost achievable with uncooled sensors has made it possible to put infrared sensors in systems such as security and surveillance cameras, soldier-carried equipment, and munitions.

An area which currently sees a strong growth is the security and surveillance area. Video and/or infrared cameras are used to monitor activity in airports, but many more areas are today being considered, e.g. harbours and roads. Systems which have been used by the military can contribute to the security solutions, in particular in terms of linking information from many sensors into a single network and extract vital information from it.

Another area of nonvisible imaging currently studied in many parts of the world is Terahertz Imaging, i.e. using electromagnetic radiation at a wavelength of about 300 µm (~1 THz). Sources and detectors have become available as a result of intensive research efforts. The driving force is the ability to obtain contrast and imagery through materials such as clothing and thin walls. Again the application is for civilian and military security and surveillance.

Many interesting devices should see the light of day in the years to come, and via IMAGIC we have a chance to study them up close at an early stage.

 

Mikael Lindgren
Systems Engineer
Saab Bofors Dynamics AB


Editorial June, 2007: IMAGIC is now up and running!

2007-10-05

For the visible wavelengths, digital imaging is currently revolutionizing the consumer goods market in the fields of still photography and video. Industrial applications also benefit by this, one example being reliable automatic machine vision systems for product quality inspection. In addition, digital imaging systems have the advantage of being easily connected to sensor network systems with the possibility for (multiple) remote data acquisition, providing access to powerful computers and high capacity data storage.

A corresponding ongoing trend for non-visible wavelengths (thermal and near infrared, ultraviolet, and X-ray) is expected to open up new opportunities for industrial applications in the fields of security/surveillance/space, automotive safety, medical diagnosis and treatment, electronics production, industrial process control, and environmental monitoring. Imaging at non-visible wavelengths offers valuable additional information regarding e. g. chemical composition and temperature of objects. This is important when, for example, detecting people or other living beings using cheap infrared imaging systems for collision avoidance in cars or for border surveillance applications.

It is my hope that the Institute Excellence Center IMAGIC on imaging components and systems will become very useful and invaluable for the participating partners. The aim is to promote growth of the participating companies, and also to create internationally- renown research results as well as offering challenging new technology for the community.

 

Jan Andersson,
Manager of the IMAGIC Centre
Acreo AB