IR detectors: Temperature sensors are a hot prospect

According to the latest technology & market analysis from Yole Développement (Yole), entitled Infrared Detector Technology & Market Trends (2015 edition), Infrared detectors are expanding beyond their legacy applications, into building automation and wireless temperature measurement in mobile phones, two very high growth areas. The total IR detector market will reach about $500M in 2020. To analyze the changes in this market we interviewed Mr. Joerg Schieferdecker, CEO of Heimann Sensor, a German company involved for 14 years in the IR detector applications. Here are the main exchange of this interview.

Yole ImageIR 2Source:Infrared Detector Technology & Market Trends, october 015, Yole Développement


Yole Développement: Can you briefly introduce Heimann Sensors and its main activities?
Joerg Schieferdecker: Heimann Sensor is a fully independent German “GmbH”, Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung or company with limited liability. It was established 14 years ago in order to develop, manufacture and commercialize infrared sensors. The company is headquartered in Dresden, with a customer service and sales office near Frankfurt and a high volume assembly facility in Malaysia. The company has been in a high growth mode for the last six years, with average 24%. Sales in 2016 – 2021 period will be mid-20M€.

Heimann Sensor has more than 35 years of development history in infrared sensing, both within Heimann Sensor and also with EGG Heimann before that. That history encompasses high quality infrared thermopiles, thermopile modules and pyroelectric sensors for remote temperature measurement and gas analysis. The company also makes vacuum or low pressure sensors and offers full service for silicon bulk and surface micromachining MEMS products. We are a DIN EN ISO 9001 certified company. Heimann focuses on the development, manufacturing and marketing of infrared sensors for non-contact temperature measurement and gas concentration measurement.

Heimann Sensor does all its development, industrialization and manufacturing internally, with an 8” silicon wafer manufacturing facility and its back end fab in Malaysia.

Heimann sensors ImageThermal images taken with new thermopile Array 80x64d – Courtesy of Heimann Sensor

YD: What were the fastest growing IR detector applications and products in 2015 for Heimann?
JS: Heimann Sensor IR detector and arrays are involved in a lot of different applications, including automotive applications, monitoring of power supplies, industrial gas sensing, HVAC monitoring and cooking monitoring. The highest growth application in 2015 has been consumer gas detection, mainly CO2 detection, for houses and buildings. For example, Heimann Sensor sells its CO2 sensors to a French company supplying meteorological stations for homes.

Heimann Sensor provides components to system and module makers. IR detector and small array applications are in a very high growth mode at the moment, key market drivers being the availability of accurate IR sensors at low price, in a small form factor.

32x32d Mini and 8x8d Mini vs 1 Euro cts
Courtesy of Heimann Sensor  

Take the example of the new 32×32 array, which has been available for six months. The array has no vacuum packaging, no shutter, is available in low cost TO5 packaging with all calibration data included and a 4 pin I/O interface. This is a unique device! It is much simpler to integrate compared to existing arrays, both with low price at the array level and also cost savings at the system level for design and manufacturing. We are now sampling and we are expecting our customers’ first modules and systems to be available Q3 2016. This device enables a lot of new applications.

YD: The mobile spot thermometer market seems to be the next important application for IR detectors. What are the challenges for this application and when do you expect to offer a suitable product?
JS: We are working to develop such a spot thermometer within Heimann Sensor. Many players in the mobile phone business are looking at these devices but we think that two more years of development are needed in order to get them working. First, single pixel sensors will be used and then arrays will be introduced into the market. The remaining issues are significant. For example, getting a compact device, within a thin ‘z budget’, is very challenging and needs further development at device and packaging level. In the same way, heat shock resistance is a challenge at the moment.


The applications of remote temperature sensing are just huge. Fever measurement, checking outdoor temperatures from your mobile phone, water temperature measurement for a baby’s bath or bottle – the list is endless. Most require 1 or 2°C accuracy, which is already available, while body temperature needs further development to reach 0.2°C accuracy.

We expect to see the first mobile phone with this feature around Christmas 2017.


Yole IRimager 1Source:Infrared Detector Technology & Market Trends, october 015, Yole Développement

YD: What are the most important upcoming technical development and challenges for Heimann?
JS: At the moment, we are working on multiple improvements, with focus on integrated sensors, and driving down the pixel size of our devices. We are now at 90µmx90µm pixel size in production and we are developing a 50µm… 60µm next generation. We are developing wafer level optics in order to provide miniature arrays with calibrated optics. Several developments are also needed to master the challenges in new packages: the TO series are well adapted to most applications but we have also SMD devices and consider WLP technologies. The package is developed according to the application’s needs in terms of specifications but also cost. The beauty of TO5 is that you can have a device without vacuum and without a shutter, very simple to integrate lens optics and best in heat shock suppression.

We will also launch our new 80×64 arrays next year, which will be a great product.


EEPROM mounted on 6 pin TO8

80×64 chip and EEPROM mounted on 6 pin TO8 header
Courtesy of Heimann Sensor


80x64d Array family with different optical

80x64d Array family with different optics (from 18…75 deg FOV)
Courtesy of Heimann Sensor



YD: What are the next phases in Heimann’s development in IR detector applications?
JS: We will certainly continue our more than average growth rates for next 5 years. We are continuously investing in R&D and production infrastructure, both front end and back end, which allows us to support customer needs in very short cycle times. We are extremely focused – IR sensing is our business – with a fast decision process. We have also taken the full benefit of our location in the Dresden “Silicon Saxony” area, with strong long term R&D partnership providing partners access to high level expertise and a network of companies able to support each other in development and manufacturing. The Dresden area is incredible for that.

What is really surprising for me after 35 years of involvement in the IR sensing field is that things that seemed impossible ten years ago are our bread and butter today. A lot of new applications are just around the corner and will fuel Heimann Sensor’s growth for the next five years. We are in a very high growth phase of the IR sensor market at the moment and we will take full benefit of this trend.

Jorg schieferdecker ceo heimann sensor yole i micronews bwJörg Schieferdecker, CEO and co-founder of Heimann Sensor GmbH, started his infrared carreer 37 years ago at the Dresden University of Technology. Dr. Schieferdecker has worked for Heimann Sensor, EG&G Heimann and WF Berlin for more than thirty years in the fields of Infrared sensor development and management. His ambition in Heimann Sensor is, to bring every year at least one technology leading product to the world market. He is married and has 2 daughters and 2 grand kids and enjoys in his spare time outdoor activities like mountain marathons, skitours and climbing high mountains. He acts in a voluntary function for the local Alpinistic club.


Sources:   Yole Développement    –    heimann sensor logo yole i micronews


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