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Amorphous silicon two-color microbolometer for uncooled IR detection

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3 Author(s)
Almasri, M. ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Univ. of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA ; Bai Xu ; Castracane, J.

This paper describes the modeling and design of two-color microbolometers for uncooled infrared (IR) detection. The goal is to develop a high resolution IR detector array that can measure the actual temperature and color of an object based on two spectral wavelength regions. The microbolometer consists of high temperature amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) thin film layer held above the substrate by Si3N4 bridge. A thin NiCr absorber with sheet resistance of 377 Ω/sqr is used to enhance the optical absorption in the medium and long IR wavelength windows. A tunable micromachined Al-mirror was suspended underneath the detector. The mirror is switched between two positions by the application of an electrostatic voltage. The switching of the mirror between the two positions enables the creation of two wavelength response windows, 3-5 and 8-12 μm. A comparison of the two response wavelength windows enables the determination of the actual temperature of a viewed scene obtained by an IR camera. The microbolometer is designed with a low thermal mass of 1.65×10-9 J/K and a low thermal conductance of 2.94×10-7 W/K to maximize the responsivity Rv to a value as high as 5.91×104 W/K and detectivity D* to a value as high as 2.34×109 cm Hz12//W at 30 Hz. The corresponding thermal time constant is equal to 5.62 ms. Hence, these detectors could be used for 30-Hz frame rate applications. The extrapolated noise equivalent temperature difference is 2.34 mK for the 8-12 μm window and 23 mK for the 3-5 μm window. The calculated absorption coefficients in the medium and long IR wavelength windows before color mixing are 66.7% and 83.7%. However, when the color signals are summed at the output channel, the average achieved absorption was 75%.

Published in:

Sensors Journal, IEEE  (Volume:6 ,  Issue: 2 )

Date of Publication:

April 2006

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