THz silicon-integrated camera for low-cost imaging applications (TiCAM)

Themes: Applied Electromagnetics, Quasi-Optical Systems

Develop a real-time multi pixel passive radiometer, operating between 0.1 THz and 1THz, integrated in a silicon based technology, with temperature resolution better than 1K
Up to date commercial THz imagers have not been developed due to the lack of low-cost, low-power integrated systems, capable of being portable and employing technologies with high-volume capabilities. Recent developments employing silicon technologies have begun to show the possibility of bridging the gap between niche (space-like) and everyday applications. Nevertheless, current research emphasis and system implementations are only focusing on active imaging systems, which require bulky and expensive external sources. The use of the external source is required to bypass the lack of sensitivity of the available receiving systems which is not an intrinsic limitation of silicon technology.

The goal of TICAM is to improve the system sensitivity in such a way that near real time passive imaging can be realized in silicon technology, with temperature resolution lower than 1K. The target improvements rely on the cross-expertise of the research team composing TiCAM, providing competences in the three key areas required to develop THz integrated systems: antennas, integrated circuit design and device modeling. These competences have not been jointly addressed by other research groups active in this field due to the lack of combined front-end design (antennas and circuits), characterization and modeling expertise. By efficiently employing an ultra large detection bandwidth, reducing the active device noise contribution and truly co-designing the system front-end, the sensitivity of passive imagers can be increased by a factor 20.

Overall TiCAM will demonstrate a multi pixel passive radiometer (e.g., 1 thousand elements), operating between 0.1 THz and 1THz integrated in a silicon based technology. This will enable sub kelvin temperature imaging in less than one second, reaching the sensitivity requirement for typical security scenarios.

Project data

Researchers: Sven van Berkel, Satoshi Malotaux, Carmine De Martino, Daniele Cavallo, Nuria Llombart, Marco Spirito, Andrea Neto
Starting date: January 2013
Closing date: January 2017
Funding: 750 kE; related to group 750 kE
Sponsor: STW HTSM
Partners: NXP Semiconductors
Contact: Marco Spirito