Foundry-based UV sensitive photo diodes open optoelectronic sensor opportunities

Foundry-based UV sensitive photo diodes open optoelectronic sensor opportunities

New Products |
By eeNews Europe

X-FAB’s UV sensors are well suited for applications such as smart watches and smartphones that detect UV light. They also are valuable in the industrial sector for water purification and disinfection systems or for flame detection and other applications, and in the medical sector for light therapies or the detection of blood sugar in diabetes monitoring.

Easily integrated into designs implemented in X-FAB’s modular XH018 and XH035 CMOS process technologies, the diodes provide the highest quantum efficiency available from a silicon foundry. They cost-effectively open the door to a wide variety of wearable, medical and industrial applications that previously required dedicated processes or discrete diodes.
In X-FAB’s 0.35 micrometer foundry process, their quantum efficiency (measurement of a device’s electrical sensitivity to light) especially in the UV-A and UV-B wavelength range is more than 70 percent, and in X-FAB’s 0.18 micrometer technology it is more than 50 percent. Such levels previously have been reported only for photo diodes manufactured with special processes that use back-side illumination, or for discrete UV photo diodes.

Even though they are optimized for UV light, the UV photo diodes offered by X-FAB also perform well in the visible and infra-red light spectrum, achieving a quantum efficiency rating higher than 70-percent for visible light. They support applications that require a broad wavelength range from UV to infra-red light, such as spectroscopy. Use of the new diodes provides the following benefits:

  • Designers can use just one proven photo diode structure for different wavelengths, resulting in cost efficiencies
  • Their low dark current results in a good signal-to-noise ratio and could reduce the size of the photo diode for further cost reduction
  • As part of X-FAB’s standard CMOS process offerings, the integrated UV photo diodes allow customers to design integrated optoelectronic systems on a single chip instead of the two-chip solution previously required.

Detlef Sommer, Business Line Manager for X-FAB’s optoelectronic offering, explained the importance of the new UV sensors: “This expansion of X-FAB’s family of successful optoelectronic sensors already manufactured in high volumes for ambient light and proximity sensing allows our customers to venture into entirely new application areas. For example, the enhanced models of the XH018 UV diodes enable designers without special optical knowledge to design integrated optoelectronic systems.”


Both the UV sensors and comprehensive process design kits (PDKs) for 0.35 and 0.18 micrometer technologies are available for immediate use. For XH018, a special dedicated VERILOG-A behavioral photo diode model for each photo diode will be provided by the end of June 2015 which enables designers to apply their customary electrical design flow to the complicated physical process of light sensing.

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