Near infrared sensor delivers 'enormous' gain

6 August 2003 Coventry, UK Lightwave Europe -- Optical Antenna Solutions has developed a low-cost optical concentrator, which offers performance levels of up to 50 times the maximum theoretical gain provided by a hemispherical lens. OAS says that added to a T0 package, the sensor "will pave the way for a new family of components".

Aug 6th, 2003

6 August 2003 Coventry, UK -- Optical Antenna Solutions (OAS) Ltd has developed a low-cost optical concentrator, which offers performance levels of up to 50 times the maximum theoretical gain provided by a hemispherical lens. OAS says that added to a T0 package, the sensor "will pave the way for a new family of components".

The company claims to have "blended the optical and silicon worlds to create a component with the capability to revolutionise the world of optical wireless communications".

Applications could include communication lasers, networking products, optical re-calibration, IrDA, mobile telephones, PDAs and home computers to road tolling and medical equipment. It could also see infrared signalling � with its increased security capability - become the system of choice for wireless communications.

Completion of this next-generation component follows original research by Warwick University in developing the optical antenna. OAS Ltd � licensed to commercially develop the antenna � has since worked closely with Silicon Sensor in Germany, one of Europe's leading manufacturers of Silicon Radiation Detectors, to build the antenna into this "round-breaking optical component".

OAS' Global Marketing Director Alex Clarke says, "working with our partner Silicon Sensor, we have taken the dielectric totally internally reflecting concentrator, designed in a specific way, and produced an optical detector that unlocks the capabilities that photo-optical development organisations around the world have been looking for.

"This is at a price which will allow mass adoption across all market sectors. We expect that opto-electronic components including IrDA devices will go through a period of enhancement to meet the demands and challenges associated with achieving more bandwidth and better signal to noise.

"We are already well down the road of seeing it working in the transportation, medical and defence markets and there are applications across any sector you care to choose. High technology manufacturing, security systems, free-space laser transmission, laser rangefinder, aviation and TV broadcasting are ones we are already looking at but really that is just the start".

The lens module of the DTIRC means that the design can be altered for each application � dramatically improving the gain ratio where the field of view of the lens does not require maximum range. The detector chip can be selected to give the best optimisation for the signal level and bandwidth required from the system. This is a major advantage and has produced remarkable test results.

The DTIRC structure uses an OAS Optical Antenna with a FOV of 25° half angle. Optical gain measurements have been performed on a DTIRC structure that comprises a PD2-6 Silicon Sensor detector with the Optical Antenna mounted on the photosensitive area, and a bare photodetector. Experiments on different samples were carried out in order to obtained accurate data about the behaviour of the DTIRC structure with regards to angular response and optical gain.

Main benefits of the DTIRC
- Wider area of incidence hence better capture angle.
- Better light concentration providing more gain.
- With greater concentration comes greater distance performance.
- With greater concentration opto-electronic manufacturers can produce smaller devices.
- With more gain there is less noise within the structure of the photo-detector.
- Smaller photo-detector material means less electrical capacitive properties.
- With less noise and smaller devices and less capacitance, provide the conditions to achieve faster data-rates.

Working along side Optical Antenna Solutions has been enabling partner Silicon Sensor, who integrated the prototype Optical Antenna with its detector chips to create a very much improved sensor.

Peter Nash, UK-based Director of International Sales and Projects of Silicon Sensors, says, "Our partnership working style with Optical Antenna has produced, in DTIRC, a remarkable detector package and is an excellent example of what can be achieved when organisations get together with a determination to succeed."

Versions have been produced for low light levels, using Silicon Sensor's series-6 chips and for applications needing high bandwidth using high-speed epitaxial series-5 chips. Silicon Sensor is already working with the Optical Antenna using Silicon Sensor's APDs integrated with high speed trans-impedance amplifiers for very high speed, low light level applications.

Optical Antenna Solutions Ltd is available to provide test results to other organisations where appropriate.

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