What We Do
The Sensor Group (TSG) specializes in delivering advanced sensor technology to customers requiring exacting performance. We have significant experience designing high performance focal plane array technologies into products. Digital imaging systems integrated with high speed, low noise, and large formats with bonded fiber faceplates are standard offerings. Cameras with low SWaP (size, weight, and power) or embedded intelligence, or both, can be tailored to customer needs.
Actuation is always an option when “where it is pointed” needs to change quickly. To enable us to build solutions of this complexity, we house laboratory and analytical capabilities encompassing component and system performance, so that customers are provided with timely, accurate, physics-based support in the development, manufacture and deployment of products.
Getting the sensor “right” often makes the difference. Issues that play into sensor decisions include noise floor, dynamic range, digital data transport, timing and control, fiber taper design and bonding, as well as heat dissipation. We have laboratory and analytical tools for characterizing image sensors for electronic, optical and opto-mechanical behavior.
We routinely use radiometers and our image processing software for measuring dynamic range, studying shot noise, and quantifying things like multi-slope performance. Nanometer scale profilometry is helpful for understanding sensor topology in demanding applications. Target projectors give us flexibility in MTF and related measurements. Our alignment telescope enables us to characterize sensors and their attendant optics from visible to thermal infrared wavelengths. Modern electronic test equipment for generating and measuring precision digital and analog signals in electronics is ready at hand.
High Speed Cameras
Emerging CMOS devices are again expanding the boundaries of both speed and low noise, so it’s an exciting time to be creating new products for those customers who need speed. We have built rugged, low noise, high speed cameras for many years, which is where we started. Moving gigabytes of data per second within an imaging device can be difficult, especially if low noise and wide temperature performance is a must. The thermal, optical, and electronic issues associated with making that happen are very familiar to us and provide a solid foundation for other products we develop and deliver.
We have electronic test equipment for measuring high speed signals, including a vector network analyzer, for optimizing and verifying signal paths and transmission line quality. We do keep an eye on EMI/EMC concerns when edges are sharp and fast, which is why we have an RF spectrum analyzer handy.
Low SWaP Devices
The world of low size, weight and power (SWaP) is very familiar to the makers of mobile devices and their consumers. But not all imaging solutions *can* be low SWaP, and even when they can be, the markets are not large enough to entice solutions from the market leaders in this area. One example would be the so called block-camera. In the past few years we have added compact sensor / zoom assemblies to our arsenal. We are staying active in the area of compact sensor and lens technologies.
Smarts and Gimbals
Increasingly with time, some level of real-time image analysis is a requirement. It is also common to need a way to “point the camera over there and do it now.” We have been involved in making cameras “smart” for over 10 years and our principals have been embedding algorithms for real-time image analysis for over 20 years. We have also built our own gimbals and helped our customers do the same since we started. TSG has accumulated a capability to deliver smart, actuated solutions for customers.
Products always have a requirement for thermal, shock, and vibration, whether it’s stated or not. We always take care to get these issues on the table sooner rather than later, so that development cycles are not wasted. Our environmental chamber, electrodynamic shaker, and multi-axis rate table allow us to address many design and production issues right here in our facility. When more testing is called for (e.g. salt-fog chamber) we rely on local partners and providers in the Phoenix area.