Image sensors expert, Gigajot Technology, has been awarded a NASA Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project to develop a UV/EUV photon number resolving image sensor based on its Quanta Image Sensor (QIS) technology.
The QIS is a platform technology and can be used in a wide range of imaging and photonics applications ranging from consumer to high-end (e.g. scientific). It provides excellent photon-counting capability, low dark current, high resolution, and high-speed operation. Also, QIS is compatible with the mainstream CMOS image sensor processes. The QIS devices can be designed and implemented in different formats (from a few pixels to hundreds of megapixels), different pixel sizes (from sub-micron to more than ten microns), and different spectral sensitivity (UV-VIS-NIR).
In this project, Gigajot will deliver a novel platform photon-counting image sensor technology, QIS, for future NASA mission concept studies as well as other scientific and consumer applications. The outcome of this project will be a large-format visible-blind CMOS UV/EUV photon-counting sensor with accurate photon-counting capability. The novel sensor will provide several features and capabilities that are not available with other high-sensitivity detectors, these features include: accurate photon-number-resolving, zero dead time, low voltage and power requirements, high spatial resolution, and room temperature operation, among others.
According to Dr. Jiaju Ma, the project's principal investigator and the CTO of Gigajot, enabled by their patented innovations, the novel image sensor will combine a linear multi-bit photon-counting response in each detection cycle, zero dead time, low dark current, low operating voltage, the capability of room-temperature operation, and strong radiation hardness. When combined with the existing advanced back-surface passivation techniques and band-pass filters, it can produce accurate visible-blind UV/EUV photon-counting with high quantum efficiency.
High-performance photon-counting detectors for the UV/EUV spectral region are required in a wide range of applications, especially scientific applications, such as cosmology and astrophysics studies. According to Gigajot's President & CEO, Dr. Saleh Masoodian, besides scientific applications, there are also sizeable markets for the proposed technology in automotive, medical, industrial, defense, and security applications. He also added that a large-format UV/EUV CMOS photon-counting sensor can potentially have numerous applications in these markets. For example, UV imaging is used in dermatology to identify and visualize epidermal dermatologic conditions. With the high spatial resolution and single-photon sensitivity provided by Gigajot innovative imaging technologies, the details and features of the subcutaneous skin can be more accurately visualized.
The reflected-UV imaging is also widely used to detect scratches and digs on the optical surfaces. For instance, the semiconductor industry uses UV imaging to perform an automated inspection on the photomasks. This inspection needs sensors with ultra-high spatial resolution and large format to quickly scan a large area and detect defects with submicron size.
Gigajot Technology is now looking for partners interested in specific applications for this new imaging technology.