Panasonic recently announced the development of mass production technology for far infrared aspherical lenses for cameras and camera modules. These lenses are made of chalcogenide glass, which has excellent transmission characteristics in the far infrared. The advantages of the new technology, along with low cost (about half compared to the technology used now) include the ability to produce various lenses, including aspherical and diffractive lenses, for the first time in the world – highly sealed, embedded in frames without the use of glue, lenses with a diameter of 3 to 40 mm.
In recent years, with the growing focus on environmental protection, far-infrared sensors have played an important role in energy management by monitoring heat generation and heat loss. In the automotive industry, the growing demand for autonomous driving technologies has created a demand for such sensors due to their ability to detect people and animals from a distance at night when conventional visible light cameras cannot.
Under these conditions, far-infrared sensors are growing in size and resolution, necessitating the need for suitable lenses. Unfortunately, inexpensive silicon lenses for far infrared sensors are not suitable for high resolution sensors due to their low transmittance. Therefore, high transmittance germanium spherical lenses are widely used. However, their capabilities are also limited, because as the number of pixels increases further, the aberration effect caused by spherical lenses becomes more pronounced. To reduce this effect, a combination of several spherical lenses and an aspherical lens would be required, resulting in an increase in cost and size.
To solve this problem, Panasonic has developed a new low-cost manufacturing technology for high-quality aspherical lenses suitable for far-infrared optical systems.
The frame integration mentioned above eliminates the risk of damaging the edge of the very fragile chalcogenide lens and provides a sealed module in which the space between the sensor and the lens can be sealed or filled with an inert gas to improve sensor performance.
The company is now accepting orders for prototypes.