Ultra-High Resolution CMOS Focal Plane Arrays for ISR Cameras
A fundamental requirement for all military organizations is Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, or ISR. Many capabilities are included in ISR, although the most important ISR tool historically has been high-resolution imagery of the military facilities of potential adversaries. Over the last 90 years, this capability evolved from the simple handheld film cameras of observers in early biplanes to sophisticated cameras aboard high-flying, clandestine aircraft in recent years. Over the last two decades, such cameras have evolved from using film to various types of electronic imaging systems. The benefit of the latter is that digitized imagery can be transmitted instantaneously to intelligence centers and field commanders.
Sensor systems typically use multiple cameras, capturing images in the visible spectrum and several infrared wavebands. Forza Silicon has developed a number of highly specialized CMOS focal plane arrays for such multi-spectral ISR applications, from cryogenically-cooled scanning array Readout Integrated Circuits (ROICs) to very large format 2D CMOS visible imaging arrays. CMOS focal plane arrays beyond 200 megapixels (mpx) have been fabricated to date, believed to be the largest ever created. Still larger arrays are in development.
Such ultra high-resolution imaging arrays are particularly important for a new class of surveillance system known as Wide Area Airborne Surveillance (WAAS). In such systems, an area of the size of, say, a small city is monitored continuously using frames rates of 2-4 frames per second (fps) to automatically detect vehicle movements and tracking.
Forza specializes in the design and manufacture of custom CMOS focal plane arrays for high-resolution imaging. The Forza organization is tailored for such extremely custom, low volume DoD applications and is a highly-qualified supplier for ISR imaging systems. A commercial example of Forza Silicon’s capability is the collaboration with NHK, the Japanese Broadcast specialists, to create a new camera for an 8K system that is now known as Super-Hi-Vision. The Forza CMOS image sensor has over 33 megapixels at 60 frames per second (60 fps). Pixel size for this remarkable sensing array is just 3.8 microns, allowing a compact camera capable of studio and field applications.