SWIR Megapixel vs CCD Megapixel Prices

I recently bought a 16 mega-pixel SONY pocket camera from a major big box retailer for $180. The cost per mega-pixel was a little over $10. What a wonderful camera!

Contrast that to Shortwave Infrared (SWIR) cameras, where the competitive cost per mega-pixel is approximately $40,000. Each pixel in a SWIR camera costs 4,000 times more than a pixel in a visible-wavelength consumer camera! That’s a big deal! Why so expensive?

The answer is that the low cost, mainstream CMOS semiconductor process which is used to build most all electronic devices in the world, including my new SONY camera, is blind to SWIR wavelengths. Instead Indium Gallium Arsenide, InGaAs , semiconductors must be used to “see” SWIR light.

Billions of dollars are invested annually by semiconductor vendors to continually drive down the cost of CMOS electronics. Moore’s law happens at the price of billions of dollar per year.

Contrast that to InGaAs, where the number of wafers produced per year is too small to preclude the investments needed to dramatically drive down the cost of InGaAs wafers. Contrast the diameter of the newest CMOS wafers (18 inches) to the size of typical InGaAs wafers (4 inch). Contrast the number of CMOS wafers build per year (hundreds of millions) to the number of InGaAs wagers built per year (thousands). It’s commodity versus expensive boutique.

The bottom line is that the cost of InGaAs Focal Plane Array (FPA) dominates the cost of SWIR cameras. The bigger the piece of InGaAs employed, the more the camera costs.

Here’s where InView patented Compressive Sensing provides a huge benefit to users of SWIR cameras.
Compressive sensing allows InView to use a significantly smaller amount of InGaAs than is used by any other SWIR camera vendor.

InView passes that those cost savings along to the SWIR camera users, allowing InView to reduce the price of high-resolution SWIR cameras by a factor of five.

In conclusion, if you need a Short Wave Infrared camera, you owe it to your pocketbook to check out InView’s Compressive Sensing InGaAs products.

– Bob Bridge, CEO, InView Technology Corp