Boosting sensitivity of infrared array sensors

Jon Lawson

Panasonic Automotive & Industrial Systems Europe has launched the second generation of its Grid-EYE infrared array sensors with enhanced sensitivity.

The new high gain types (AMG8833 and AMG8834) and low gain types (AMG8853 and AMG8854) both benefit from an improved NETD (Noise Equivalent Temperature Difference) of 0.16°C at 10Hz and of 0.05°C at 1Hz.

This means the detection distance has improved from 5m up to 7m while maintaining full compatibility with the existing first generation designs so that engineers can get improved and accurate results when they use the sensor in their existing designs.

The sensors use Panasonic’s MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) technology where an array of 64 thermopile elements in an 8x8 grid format detect absolute surface temperature without any contact. This array chip is combined with a digital ASIC with an I2C communications interface and a silicon lens in the same small package.

Unlike conventional IR sensors, Grid-EYE uses a patented 60° silicon lens etched out of a silicon wafer, which is (with less than 0.3mm height) the smallest available lens in the market. The combination of these technologies allows for a sensor package size of only 11.6mm x 8mm x 4.3mm, which is around 70% smaller in size than other comparable sensors.

Compared with single element thermopile sensors and pyroelectric sensors, the second generation Grid-EYE can not only detect moving and motionless people and objects but does that in comparison to its predecessor models with higher precision and higher accuracy.