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The world’s fastest low noise infrared camera: Optic camera infrared

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - OCAMIR (The world’s fastest low noise infrared camera: Optic camera infrared)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2016-04-01 do 2017-03-31

The e-APD technology is a breakthrough technology that promises unprecedented infrared detector performance. It allows electron multiplication as EM-CCD for visible range of observation.
We imagined a complete universe towards OCAMIR, by giving it the commercial name: C-RED and creating a special visual identity to the project. We considered at that time that OCAMIR was precursory, and the very first camera of a future range of infrared cameras created by First Light Imaging.
First Light Imaging C-RED One infrared camera is capable of capturing up to 3500 full frames per second with subelectron readout noise and very low background. C-RED One is based on the last version of the SAPHIRA detector developed by Leonardo UK. This breakthrough has been made possible thanks to the use of an e-APD infrared focal plane array which is a real disruptive technology in imagery. C-RED One is an autonomous system with an integrated cooling system and a vacuum regeneration system. It operates its sensor with a wide variety of read out techniques and processes video on-board thanks to a Xlinks embedded FPGA.
The work performed from the beginning of the second period to the end of the program is described hereafter per work package.

Work Package 1 - Project Management
In addition to the periodic project follow-up (once each 2 to 3 weeks) 2 project general meetings have been carried out on a 6 month frequency during the past period. These meeting are organized to provide the up-to-date project documentation and is peer reviewed.

Work Package 2 : called “OCAMIR camera specifications” allows to define all specifications of the infrared detector and expectations from the market and customers. The specifications of the camera prototype has been completed.

Work Package 3: “OCAMIR camera prototype” defined the infrared camera and allowed to access the real system performances and limitations of this camera.

Mechanics and cryogenics progress:
The mechanical design was done around the detector. To maintain the operational temperature of 80K, the detector must be connected to a cryogenic system and maintain in high vacuum area. Also, the mechanical development was done to obtain a compact design.

Vacuum/cryogenic design:
• Cryostat is a main part of mechanical design. It’s a monolithic part and allow to connect the functional elements (pulse tube, getter, electric board, etc.) and keep a high vacuum.

Readout electronics progress:
5 different PCBs have been designed to drive the e-APD and to comply with the requirements of the WP2.

Camera firmware progress
The camera firmware drives the full system. It initializes, supervises and manages the camera.
The firmware is based on embedded Linux distribution petalinux. It is used because it is a very reliable software used by millions of devices and this distribution could support our hardware platform. Firmware development for the WP3 has been achieved.

Work Package 4:”OCAMIR camera commercial product”develloped the OCAMIR camera product ready to be offered to the customers.
Detector update
A new version of the detector, called ME1000,was procured, offering improved flexibility and readout scheme compared to the prototype of WP3. This new detector will offer a real Correlated Double Sampling readout mode.
Update of the readout electronics due to detector new specifications
Analog voltages of the outputs are now closer to the GND and the current first stage amplifier can’t deal with rail to rail operation. A new stage is designed and includes optimisations thanks to tests performed on the prototype.
Moreover, the ME1000 has totally new read out technique that cancels and replaces previous one. The programmable logic needs to be update in accordance.
Mechanics and cryogenics progress
The prototype allowed us to revise some parts of mechanical design like detector support to achieve a reliable product.

Work Package 5: this WP “Communication and Results dissemination” allows to communicate about the project and the technology development and its results.
As part of the Horizon 2020 program, First Light Imaging must communicate and disseminate results regarding the OCAMIR two-year project, with regard to the communication plan.
There are several objectives inherent to this communication plan:
• Building awareness and understanding of the OCAMIR project, and of its applications
• Assisting stakeholders/European Commission to be updated on the project progress
• Encouraging the scientific community, business community and general public to be enthusiastic about this innovative project
• Positioning the OCAMIR project as a real technological breakthrough in Infrared Camera, and more generally, promote the product as a tremendous innovation, and First Light Imaging.
C-RED One (OCAMIR) is the first and unique commercial IR camera offering sub-electron noise, infrared sensitivity up to 2.5 microns and fast readout, up to 3500 fps. This product is clearly beyond all what is existing on the market and even in academic laboratories.

The global market of OCAMIR is very large and is necessarily World Wide Sized. This Infrared cameras market is segmented in several ways:
Segmentation by Spectrum Range: SWIR, MWIR, LWIR & FWIR cameras,
Segmentation by applications: Commercial, Military & Defense , Industrial, Medical Imaging, Automotive, Space and Astronomy.
Segmentation by detectors suppliers and technology: only a few manufacturers in the world are able to produce cooled infrared detectors: Teledyne, USA, Sofradir, France, Selex, UK, using InGaAs or MCT technology.

Ocamir brings new possibilities in Astronomy : faster adaptive optic systems for more efficient observations.
Bioimagery : detecting with non invasive technologies cancer cells at early diagnosis.
Industry: Control on semiconductors manufacturing process.
Defense: See before being seen...

In 2017, First Light employs 12 peoples:
3 senior engineers, in charge of supervising the R&D operations, those world-class engineers are under the scope of French research law which allows them to be part of the company for 20% of their time for scientific management only. They are still involved in their public research labs: Laboratoire d’astrophysique de Marseille (LAM) and Institut de Planétologie de Grenoble (IPAG/CNRS):
4 R&D engineers, electronics, software, mechanics and cryogenics are supervised by them,
1 technician in charge of technical assistance and current range of product (OCAM2) production,
1 administrative person for back office,
1 Marketing and communication manager
1 CEO, in charge of general management and sales).
All those people are affected, partly or in totality, to this program
In 2016, First Light has increased its team:
We have hired 4 more employees: One IT technician, 1 young doctor in bio imagery, 1 electronics engineer and is looking for a software engineer. These people will be affected to the current operations and new R&D programs, this will allow First Light to respect the initial planning for Ocamir.

2017 and following: The expected volumes will require to hire more people affected to production and tests, technical management and sales: (10 peoples will be recruited along and after the development program).
Supply chain:

The supply chain is still 100% European which remains a real advantage to be out of the scope of ITAR rules and to be able to export to China and other non EU markets.
Pictures of the camera prototype - WP3