ESA contract award for High-Performance T2SL Infrared Detectors

European Space Agency (ESA) and a European consortium comprised of IRnova AB (Sweden) as the contract leader, Leonardo UK (United Kingdom) and Fraunhofer IAF (Germany), announced the final agreement and contract signature for the development of High-performance Type-2 Super Lattice (T2SL) infrared detectors intended for future space and ground-based applications.

Several primary objectives will be pursued, including to demonstrate a reliable process for producing large format T2SL infrared detectors (Arrays > 1 K x 1 K pixels, 10 µm pitch) meeting ESA electro-optical specifications, validate high-quality substrates grown in Europe and qualify a full-European supply chain for T2SL up to TRL6. Within this consortium led by IRnova AB, each partner will bring their state-of-the-art capabilities for custom ROIC design, T2SL epi structure design, Epitaxial layer growth and large focal plane /small pitch hybridization processes.

This contract reiterates the maturity of T2SL and the willingness from ESA to maintain European sovereignty in state-of-the-art infrared detector supply chain to cover for future needs. T2SL technologies are being investigated to facilitate lower resource detector operation at longer wavelengths and higher temperatures. T2SL is recognised as the most promising alternative to MCT for 2D Long Wave Infra-Red (LWIR) and Very Long Wave Infra-Red (VLWIR) arrays. This material structure offers great flexibility on tailoring the bandgap (cut-off wavelength) to any desired detection wavelength in the infrared wavelength region. By individually varying the thickness and composition of the alternating layers in the lattice structure, detectors covering from short wavelength infra-red (SWIR, 0.9 -2.5 µm) to very long wavelength infra-red (VLWIR, 10.5-16 µm), can be manufactured.