Imaging in the Short-Wave Infra-Red (SWIR) has some unique advantages over visible or thermal imaging. InGaAs/InP is the leading technology for two-dimensional (2D) SWIR detector arrays, with very high electro-optical performance. For optimal performance, such detectors can be moderately cooled and temperature stabilized using a Thermo- Electric Cooler (TEC). This results in a small package with low power consumption, high reliability, and relatively low production cost. SCD's SWIR Imager is a low size, weight and power (SWaP) video engine (video core) in which a 640×512/15μm InGaAs Focal Plane Array (FPA) is embedded in a low cost plastic package. The SWIR Imager weights 50 gram, and its size is 31×31×32 mm3. It supports conventional video formats, such as Camera Link and BT.656. The Video Processing Unit (VPU) and algorithms are specifically optimized for Low Light Level (LLL) conditions, utilizing the InGaAs FPA ("Cardinal 640") Low Noise Imaging with Correlated Double Sampling mode to reach a low readout noise of less than 40e-. The overall power dissipation of the video engine (not including TEC) is less than 1.4W. Special effort was invested in minimizing the dark current to a level of 1fA at 20°C, thus alleviating the cooling requirements. In this work we will review in detail the electro- optical characteristics and performance of the SWIR Imager and specifically the embedded image processing capabilities for LLL conditions. The results are based on actual measurements of several prototypes manufactured by SCD over the last year. The SWIR Imager video engine is aimed to replace an Image Intensifier (II) tube in a Driver Vision Enhancement (DVE) system.
KEYWORDS: SWIR, Infrared Detector, InGaAs, SNIR, Low Light Level imaging
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