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Proceedings Paper

Design issues of a low cost lock-in amplifier readout circuit for an infrared detector
Author(s): L. Scheepers; J. Schoeman
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Paper Abstract

In the past, high resolution thermal sensors required expensive cooling techniques making the early thermal imagers expensive to operate and cumbersome to transport, limiting them mainly to military applications. However, the introduction of uncooled microbolometers has overcome many of earlier problems and now shows great potential for commercial optoelectric applications. The structure of uncooled microbolometer sensors, especially their smaller size, makes them attractive in low cost commercial applications requiring high production numbers with relatively low performance requirements. However, the biasing requirements of these microbolometers cause these sensors to generate a substantial amount of noise on the output measurements due to self-heating. Different techniques to reduce this noise component have been attempted, such as pulsed biasing currents and the use of blind bolometers as common mode reference. These techniques proved to either limit the performance of the microbolometer or increase the cost of their implementation. The development of a low cost lock-in amplifier provides a readout technique to potentially overcome these challenges. High performance commercial lock-in amplifiers are very expensive. Using this as a readout circuit for a microbolometer will take away from the low manufacturing cost of the detector array. Thus, the purpose of this work was to develop a low cost readout circuit using the technique of phase sensitive detection and customizing this as a readout circuit for microbolometers. The hardware and software of the readout circuit was designed and tested for improvement of the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the microbolometer signal. An optical modulation system was also developed in order to effectively identify the desired signal from the noise with the use of the readout circuit. A data acquisition and graphical user interface sub system was added in order to display the signal recovered by the readout circuit. The readout circuit was able to enhance the SNR of the microbolometer signal significantly. It was shown that the quality of the phase sensitive detector plays a significant role in the effectiveness of the readout circuit to improve the SNR.

Paper Details

Date Published: 23 June 2014
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 9257, Sensors, MEMS and Electro-Optical Systems, 92570O (23 June 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2066294
Show Author Affiliations
L. Scheepers, Univ. of Pretoria (South Africa)
J. Schoeman, Univ. of Pretoria (South Africa)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9257:
Sensors, MEMS and Electro-Optical Systems
Monuko du Plessis, Editor(s)

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