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May 24th, 2013
ON Semiconductor awarded title III government funding for development of advanced next-generation star tracker image sensor
Working in cooperation with SRI International and Ball Aerospace, the companies will develop a monolithic CMOS image sensor meeting the STELLAR specification.
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ON Semiconductor, driving innovation in energy efficiency, has collaborated with SRI International and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. to secure funding for the Defense Production Act Title III, Advanced Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) Focal Plane Arrays (FPA) for Visible Sensors for Star Trackers (VSST) Project. The goal of the project is to increase the availability of domestically produced visible imagers, manufactured using advanced CMOS technology, that are designed to enable flexible visible imaging systems for use on-board satellite systems for Department of Defense and other U.S. Government needs.

Because commercial CMOS image sensors are not well suited to meet the requirements of a star tracker, the STELLAR development will provide a domestically produced image sensor at a reasonable cost point

To meet the goals of the Staring Technology for Enhanced Linear Line-of-sight Angular Recognition (STELLAR) program, the companies will work together to define the specifications and develop an advanced 2D visible image sensor. Each member of the STELLAR team brings unique and complementary capabilities to the project team. ON Semiconductor brings its on-shore and highly modular 180-nanometer CMOS process technology along with its extensive experience designing high performance CMOS image sensors using both rolling and global shutter technology. Ball Aerospace brings deep understanding of star tracker systems and will drive the specification of the CMOS focal plane array as well as the end-system qualification aspects of the devices. SRI International brings extensive experience in designing focal plane arrays for space applications, along with a highly advanced backside illumination (BSI) processing capability based on its ultra-thin silicon on insulator (UTSOI) technology.
The ONC18 CMOS process manufactured at ON Semiconductor’s on-shore 8-in wafer fabrication facility in Gresham, Oregon, is an ideal platform for developing low power and highly integrated digital and mixed-signal application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) devices. The STELLAR program will further expand the ONC18 process to include pinned photodiode and transfer gate devices. Combined with ON Semiconductor’s long term commitment to maintain and support process technologies, this capability enabling development of advanced CMOS image sensors will extend supply availability.

The addition of an image sensor module to our ONC18 platform reinforces our commitment to the space-level DoD business and the overall image sensor market,” stated Vince Hopkin, vice president, Mil/Aero, Digital, Foundry, IPD and Image Sensor products division at ON Semiconductor. “The ONC18 image sensor process capability will enable a second source capability for the markets we serve including machine-vision, high-speed and biometrics.


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