COVID and the IR devices marketadmin
Photonics, No.3 and 4, 2020, published a review by V.V. Startsev, A.V. Naumov, N.A. Kulchitskaia “IR Matrix photo-receiving devices and “post-pandemic” development trends”. he authors gave an overview of the state of the market for IR thermal imaging devices in the world and for the first time in the Russian-language literature an tried to predict the impact of the pandemic on the market of IR devices.
Since the very beginning, the market of infrared (IR) thermal imaging technology has grown primarily due to military applications. Today, the development paradigm has changed – the main growth is provided by civil and medical thermography, security and fire surveillance, personal night vision systems and local security markets (municipal, private, etc.). According to the “pre-pandemic” forecast of Maxtech International and Industry ARC analysis (USA) and the current estimates of the authors, the total market if IR systems (civil and military), amounting to $ 10.5 billion in 2017, will reach almost 18 billion dollars. At the same time, the market of photo-receivers for thermal imaging systems, which makes up 20-25% of the total value, can vary according to different scenarios, as shown in figure.
The MPRD market – optimistic and pessimistic forecasts
Several enterprises concentrated in Shvabe JSC, Roselektronika JSC, and the Russian Academy of Sciences, as well as private enterprises are developing photo-receiving devices for various purposes in Russia. The main suppliers are NPO Orion JSC and MZ Sapfir JSC, which are part of Shvabe JSC, as well as the private enterprise ASTROHN Technology Ltd. The Institute of Semiconductor Physics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences develops semiconductor materials science and CdHgTe/InAs MPRD, microbolometers, and quantum wells. ASTROHN Technology Ltd. (Lytkarino) develops and manufactures cooled CdHgTe MPRDs in cooperation with the Institute for Physical Problems SB RAS. ASTROHN Technology Ltd. “has launched serial production of a matrix photodetector module in the long-wavelength range based on a cooled HgCdTe/Si matrix (by IPP SB RAS) and its Astrohn-MKS500 micro-cooling system. Astrohn-MCS500 operates on a closed reverse thermogasdynamic regenerative Stirling cycle with internal heat recovery, using ultrapure helium gas as its working fluid. In addition, the MCS has a rotary electric drive for mobile elements using a crank mechanism. The achieved results are close to the world-level indicators.
The consequences of the current global situation and their impact on the market of IR MPRD will be both short-term and long-term. Anything directly related to medical thermography can be classified as short-term. This primarily applies to uncooled thermal detectors. The low response time in the case of inexpensive “watching” thermal imaging systems is practically insignificant, especially for medical applications when measuring the thermal fields of stationary objects or objects moving at low angular velocities. In general, the entire industry will experience an upturn (especially noticeable against the background of a possible slowdown in the global economy), and this trend may move from a short-term to a long-term phase.
As for long-term trends, the epidemiological threat is highly likely to occupy the same place in the public consciousness as the terrorist threat took after the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York. Airports will possibly introduce biometric control in addition to the existing aviation security protocols; new rules for crossing border will be applied at crossing points, checkpoints, and enterprises, etc. All this will require a sharp increase in production volumes and a decrease in the production cost of thermal imagers. Technologies of even larger batch formation in a single technical process of low-defective multipixel matrices, as well as their hybridization with reading circuits, will meet a ready market. From a rather exotic and expensive device, a thermal imager will turn in the medium term into an almost household device. The ideas of using metamaterials, graphene, and other 2D structures in photoelectronics are beginning to be implemented, which, together with “traditional” thermal imaging, unusually expands the boundaries and possibilities, and scales the prospects for improving and creating new infrared optoelectronic systems.
Read the full articles in Photonics, No.3 and 4, 2020, and on our website.