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Microbolometer spectrometer opens hoist of new applications

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Author: Leijtens, J.A.P. · Smorenburg, C. · Escudero, I. · Boslooper, E.C. · Visser, H. · Helden, W.A. van · Breussin, F.N.
Institution: Technisch Physische Dienst TNO - TH
Source:Warmbein, B., Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Space Optics, ICSO 2004, 30 March - 2 April 2004, Toulouse, France, 554, 81-87
Identifier: 237802
Keywords: Bolometers · Cooling · Cryogenics · Flame research · Image sensors · Imaging techniques · Infrared radiation · Optical systems · Detector technology · Microbolometer spectrometers · Multispectral imaging · Room temperature (RT) · Spectrometers


Current Thermal infra red ( 7..14μm) multispectral imager instruments use cryogenically cooled Mercury Cadmium Telluride (MCT or HgCdTe) detectors. This causes the instruments to be bulky, power hungry and expensive. For systems that have medium NETD (Noise Equivalent Temperature Difference) requirements and can operate with high speed optics (<1.5), room temperature microbolometer performance has increased enough to enable people to design multispectral instruments based on this new detector technology. Because microbolometer technology has been driven by the military need for inexpensive, reliable and small thermal imagers, microbolometer based detectors are almost exclusively available in 2D format, and performance is still increasing. Building a spectrometer for the 7 to 12 μm wavelength region using microbolometers has been discarded until now, based on the expected NETD performance. By optimising the throughput of the optical system, and using the latest improvements in detector performance, TNO TPD has been able to design a spectrometer that is able to provide co-registered measurements in the 7 to 12 μm wavelength region yielding acceptable NETD performance. Apart from the usual multispectral imaging, the concept can be used for several other applications, among which imaging in both the 3 to 5 and 7 to 12 μm atmospheric windows at the same time (forest fire detection and military recognisance) or wideband flame analysis (Nox detection in industrial ovens).