Press release

Sofradir launches InGaAs detector arrays for military and civil applications

Châtenay-Malabry, May 6th, 2014 – At the SPIE DSS exhibition in Baltimore, May 6-8 2014, Sofradir will present its newest line of InGaAs infrared imaging arrays. For use in imaging in the shortwave infrared spectral range, the products are a result of technology that was acquired in 2013 from the Thales III-V Lab. In less than two years, Sofradir succeeded in offering a state of the art product, taking benefits to infrared hybridation know-how and high level of expertise of R&D Palaiseau people.

Snake SW is the first in a new generation of high resolution InGaAs focal plane array detectors close to the infrared spectral range (0.9-1.7μm, optionally 0.4-1.7μm). The Snake 640 was developed with a VGA format (640 X 512) and a pitch of 15μm, considered the standard format in the market. Available commercially since February 2014, the Snake complements Sofradir’s existing range of InGaAs detectors including Cactus 640, a VGA SWIR detector with 25μm pitch. The new 15μm pitch detectors deliver improved resolution and more compact camera designs.


A sharp-edged vision for the night vision operations

The Snake SW detector meets the needs of a broad range of both defense and commercial applications, marked by a strong trend toward InGaAs technology in military applications. Philippe Bensussan, Chairman & CEO of Sofradir, explains: “Sofradir presents Snake SW at the DSS Expo in Baltimore to showcase its capability to optimally satisfy defense product requirements. Furthermore, its versatility enables the product to be fully adapted for dual-use applications as well.”

Thus, Snake complements the range of products offered by Sofradir for:

  • Air monitoring - The addition of SWIR enhances the identification of the target (person, threat…).
  • Enhanced self-protection of the armored vehicles and their navigation (DVE - Driver Vision Enhancement in complement of a thermal sight). The Snake detector enables better vision in all types of atmospheric conditions and high sensitivity in hostile-fire detection, with the function commonly called “local situational awareness”.
  • Improvement of battlefield performance due to its capacity to identify camouflage distinguishing it from real vegetation.
  • Enhanced Vision Systems that improve the operational performance in landing and taxiing of aircraft, in particular in military aviation where Snake technology enables enhanced vision in low visibility environment i.e. foggy or dusty conditions. Snake will also be used for commercial aviation, benefitting from the replacement of incandescent lights by cold LED-type) lights.
  • Enhanced security missions where the utilization of SWIR technology enables: vision through windows and detection of camouflage.
  • Commercial applications: including spectrometry, silicon inspection, laser imaging and industrial defect inspection.


Key features of Sofradir’s InGaAs detectors:


  1. Low noise level (measured within 30 electrons).
  2. Very low dark current (thus uncooled) and very high sensitivity to light for a pitch of 15 microns.
  3. High frame rate (up to 300 images / second).
    Snake improves the performance in night combat, assist pilots in landing and taxiing, helps self-protection of armored vehicles and their navigation, and improves platforms in their capacity of intervening at night.


About Sofradir

Sofradir is the world leader in the design and manufacture of high-tech infrared detectors for military, space and industrial applications. Its vast range of IR products covers the entire visible spectrum and from the close to distant infrared spectrum. Sofradir is constantly innovating in the development of cooled IR detectors using high-performance technologies based on mercury cadmium telluride (MCT) as well as other technologies such as indium antimonide (InSb), indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) and the quantum-well infrared photo detector (QWIP). A number of missile homing systems, airborne targeting pods, cameras for armoured vehicles, portable binoculars and other applications on land-based, naval and airborne vehicles utilise Sofradir’s combat proven products. Sofradir is uniquely positioned in Europe as the only manufacturer of IR detectors approved for applications in space.

The head office of Sofradir, founded in 1986 in France, is located at Châtenay-Malabry. Mass production is carried out at Veurey-Voroize, near Grenoble. A new head office and production site is currently being built at Palaiseau in the vicinity of Paris. Sofradir owns two subsidiaries: ULIS, manufacturer of microbolometers based at Veurey-Voroize and Sofradir EC, supplier of IR modules, located in Fairfield, New Jersey, USA. Sofradir, ULIS and Sofradir EC employ about 700 people with combined turnover of $240 million in 2013.

Please note that Sofradir acquired InGaAs technology from the infrared activities of its parent company Sagem and Thales in 2012-2013. InGaAs technology had been developed by GIE III-V Lab, an industrial research laboratory dedicated to technologies of III-V semiconductors in the fields of telecommunications, defense, security and space. III-V Lab was founded in 2004 by Alcatel and Thales and joined by the CEA-Leti in 2010.


Sofradir will present its new developments in IR from 5th to 9th May 2014 at the SPIE DSS in Baltimore, stand no. 809

Press contact:

Frédéric Aragon - - Tel. : + 33 (0)6 23 20 66 83


Technical abstracts