German foundry X-FAB Silicon Foundries has expanded its 0.18 and 0.35 micron manufacturing process to include ultraviolet photo diodes for wearables and industrial applications.
X-FAB says the UV photo diodes are the first of their kind to be developed by a silicon foundry and work with the foundry’s modular XH018 and XH035 CMOS process technologies.
The UV sensors could be integrated into applications such as smartwatches and smartphones that detect UV light. They also could be used in the industrial market for water purification, flame detection and disinfection systems. In the medical sector, UV photo diodes would work in light therapies or for the detection of blood sugar in diabetes monitoring.
X-FAB says the UV diodes feature quantum efficiency—the electrical sensitivity of a device to light—of more than 70% for its 0.35 micron foundry process and 50% for its 0.18 micron process. Such levels of quantum efficiency have not previously been possible in manufacturing without special processes that use back-side illumination or for discrete UV photo diodes.
X-FAB says the UV photo diodes support applications across a variety of wavelength ranges from UV to infrared light, such as spectroscopy. This allows for:
- Using one diode structure for different wavelengths in an application resulting in cost savings.
- Utilizing the low dark current for a good signal-to-noise ratio that could reduce the size of the photo diode even further.
- Enabling designers to integrate optoelectronic systems on a single chip instead of a two-chip solution, as previously required.
The UV sensors as well as design kits for both processes are available now.
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