News & Analysis

Scalable SWIR sensing: a catalyst for growth in machine vision

28th November 2023
Sheryl Miles

Quantum Science, a prominent company in infrared quantum dot (QD) technology, has emphasised the importance of rapid innovation in components within the machine vision industry.

Addressing the upcoming challenges in the machine vision sector, Quantum Science highlights innovation as a key factor for maintaining market growth. Given the increasing significance of high-performance short-wave infrared (SWIR) cameras for machine vision applications and the limitations of current technologies due to high costs, exploring alternative solutions is necessary for companies aiming to drive market expansion. 

Dr Hao Pang, CEO and Founder of Quantum Science, commented: “Following a tumultuous period of market volatility, machine vision businesses are seeking new solutions to mitigate lost productivity and keep pace with their competitors. For too long, the cost of SWIR solutions like InGaAs has presented a huge barrier in the machine vision sector, and looking ahead to 2024 and beyond, this technology alone will not be sufficient to keep pace with demand.

“Driven by the need for high-performance cameras capable of perceiving SWIR wavelengths, there has never been a more pressing need for alternative imaging and sensing technologies to emerge. From our perspective it’s clear; machine vision businesses must prioritise innovation and look to cost-effective and scalable SWIR technology like quantum dots to provide the answer they are looking for.”

The potential of low-cost SWIR sensing is recognised by several players in the machine vision industry, who have started integrating this technology into their SWIR camera systems. In comparison to InGaAs sensors, which are typically priced at about $10,000 per unit, infrared QDs provide high SWIR sensitivity at a much lower cost. Quantum Science’s INFIQ infrared QD technology facilitates advanced imaging and sensing for applications including semiconductor inspection, food quality monitoring, and gas detection. These nanoscale semiconductor materials, tunable to wavelengths from 800nm to 2,400nm+, offer improved resolution and performance at approximately 100–1,000 times less cost than InGaAs sensors.

Since relocating to its new production laboratory in Daresbury earlier this year, Quantum Science has been producing INFIQ QDs on a kilogram scale, sufficient to supply millions of SWIR sensors annually. This production scale is achievable due to the unique formulation process of INFIQ technology, allowing QDs to be deposited in a single layer instead of 14–16 layers, overcoming the inefficiencies of traditional QD synthesis methods.

Dr Pang added: “The SWIR industry is a hotbed of innovation. The rapid progress in infrared QD technology we are seeing makes SWIR sensing not just accessible to machine vision businesses, compared with InGaAs, it becomes the obvious solution to supplying the number of sensors that will be needed in the years to come. “As the machine vision market develops, Quantum Science stands ready to offer its support. With unmatched QD production capacity and performance, INFIQ® QDs offer unparalleled resolution and image quality for SWIR sensors at a fraction of the price of existing InGaAs solutions, and as the industry moves forward, innovations such as these will help machine vision players thrive.”

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