Sofradir is the leading developer and manufacturer of highly advanced infrared (IR) detectors for military, space and industrial applications. Its vast IR product portfolio covers the entire spectrum from the visible and near infrared to very far infrared. Sofradir pioneers developments in cooled IR detectors based on a sophisticated high performance technology, Mercury Cadmium Telluride (MCT) to which InSb, InGaAs and QWIP technologies are now added. Sofradir employs 550 people in Veurey-Voroize near to Grenoble, France.
The pilot production activity
The pilot line concerns a new process of manufacturing of infrared detectors using Mercury Cadmium Tellurium p/n technology developed jointly by CEA LETI and Sofradir. This new process offers a real gap in term performance of the infrared detector in order to answer to the trends of the market which are the miniaturization, the reduction of the power consumption and the of the price. The KETs Micro and Nano electronics (MNE), Advanced Materials (AM) and Photonics (PHOT) are addressed.
How does Sofradir's pilot production activity help to overcome the valley of death?
From 2011, the MCT p/n technology was transferred from CEA-LETI to Sofrtadir development teams. Sofradir set up a pilot line including new process and equipments, some of them developed under specifications. During transfer period the manufacturing of the detector was performed by CEA LETI and Sofradir. Today Sofradir is autonomous for the manufacturing of the new process. The maturity of the pilot line is TRL7, meaning that the capability of the pilot line is proven for low rate production, under close surveillance of the production support team.
Pilot production activity success case and best practice example
This MCT p/n pilot line is an example of what a middle size company (Sofradir employs 550 persons for cooled infrared detectors developments and manufacturing) is able to do to increase its competitiveness. Thanks to a good vision and anticipation of what would be the market in several years, CEA-LETI and Sofradir developed jointly in the frame of a common laboratory the MCT p/n technology which was transferred to Sofradir for industrialization and production ramp-up.
Deputy of CTO – Technical Department