European project TeraTOP on track to develop THz passive imaging sensor

European project TeraTOP on track to develop THz passive imaging sensor

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

Complimentary Metal-Oxide Semi-conductor (CMOS) technology has recently seen a vast development effort in the higher frequency regimes of the near-infrared and the visible parts of the spectrum. The resulting technology has generated substantial business volumes – in excess of €4bn in 2009 at the component level alone. The development of an analogous capability for the THz range currently relies on exotic materials and technologies and has been impeded by the lack of devices and circuits suitable for mass production. The consortium plans to implement a completely new type of THz sensor based on thermally isolated nanotransistors directly integrated with CMOS-SOI (Silicon On Insulator) readout circuitry. The THz region of the electromagnetic spectrum is attracting increasing attention from scientists around the world. Extending from the microwave- to the infrared region, this non-ionizing (and therefore safe) radiation can be used to see beneath outer layers of packaging and clothing.

The key target of the project is to make breakthrough advances in the functionality, performance, cost, and size of a passive THz camera. The target technology is a room temperature real-time imaging sys-tem based on CMOS batch manufacturing processes which are suitable for mass production. Success depends on the effective combination of several leading technologies from the broad scientific back-ground represented by the consortium’s members. The key enabling building blocks include: THz pho-tonic components, THz antennas, CMOS-SOI, NEMS, and frequency-selection technologies from the astronomy community.

TeraTOP intends to build on the valuable heritage of knowledge and experience gained during previous projects. Infrared imaging sensors based on CMOS-SOI-MEMS technology have been developed before. However, significant advances are to be expected from this new initiative if the TeraTOP team is to achieve its ambitious goals. Underlying the project are several important THz related patents and patent applications submitted by two of the project partners: Technion – Israel Institute of Technology – and IBM Haifa Labs. The TeraTOP project hopes for a significant product that can be implemented rapidly on a broad scale across Europe for the benefit of its citizens.

The project is funded by the European Commission’s 7th framework and has a total budget of €3.15M. It is led by Dr. Nicolas Blanc of CSEM (Switzerland). The consortium consists of: CSEM (Switzerland), Technion Israel Institute of Technology (Israel), IBM Haifa Research Lab (Israel), IBM Research GmbH (Switzer-land), CEA-LETI (France), the University of Wuppertal (Germany), EADS Deutschland GmbH (Germany), and QMC Instruments Ltd. (UK). Additional leading experts in the field of THz technology will form an external advisory board to assist the consortium.

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