ON Semiconductor gets development funding for next-generation Star Tracker image sensor

ON Semiconductor, in collaboration with SRI International and Ball Aerospace & Technologies, has secured funding for the Defense Production Act Title III, Advanced Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) Focal Plane Arrays (FPA) for Visible Sensors for Star Trackers (VSST) Project. The project aims to increase the availability of domestically produced visible imagers, manufactured using advanced CMOS technology, that are designed to enable flexible visible imaging systems for use on-board satellite systems for Department of Defense and other U.S. Government needs.

To meet the goals of the Staring Technology for Enhanced Linear Line-of-sight Angular Recognition (STELLAR) program, the companies will work together to define the specifications and develop an advanced 2D visible image sensor. Each member of the team brings unique and complementary capabilities to the project team.

In the case of ON Semiconductor the company brings on-shore and its highly modular 180-nanometer CMOS process technology along with its extensive experience designing high performance CMOS image sensors using both rolling and global shutter technology.

Ball Aerospace brings its understanding of star tracker systems and will drive the specification of the CMOS focal plane array as well as the end-system qualification aspects of the devices. SRI International specialises in the design of focal plane arrays for space applications, along with a highly advanced backside illumination (BSI) processing capability based on its ultra-thin silicon on insulator (UTSOI) technology.

The ONC18 CMOS process manufactured at ON Semiconductor’s on-shore 8-in wafer fabrication facility in Gresham, Oregon, is used as a platform for developing low power and highly integrated digital and mixed-signal application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) devices. The STELLAR program will further expand the ONC18 process to include pinned photodiode and transfer gate devices. Combined with ON Semiconductor’s long term commitment to maintain and support process technologies, this capability enabling development of advanced CMOS image sensors will extend supply availability.

“The addition of an image sensor module to our ONC18 platform reinforces our commitment to the space-level DoD business and the overall image sensor market,” stated Vince Hopkin, vice president, Mil/Aero, Digital, Foundry, IPD and Image Sensor products division at ON Semiconductor. “The ONC18 image sensor process capability will enable a second source capability for the markets we serve including machine-vision, high-speed and biometrics.”

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