EDIT / ISAE-SUPAERO is developing a radiation hard image sensor for ITER

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The image sensor research team of ISAE-SUPAERO is involved in the development of a miniature radiation hard camera for ITER inspection and maintenance applications.

EDIT / The fruit image (640x480) below has been taken recently after irradiation at 1 MGy by the digital image sensor developed by ISAE-SUPAERO (by the CIMI group) in partnership with Veolia Nuclear Solutions & financed by Fusion For Energy.

Being capable to obtain such a good quality image after that amount of radiation is a world first. This image sensor is being developped to allow engineers to see inside ITER - the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (currently in construction), which is one of the biggest scientific projects at this moment, during maintenance tasks with robotic arms.

The big new is that the image sensor is now bigger, the size of a exploitable product, and is able to demonstrate how efficient it is by taking an image of this quality under intense radioctivity.


Article from 2016

Inside ITER, the international tokamak nuclear fusion reactor, materials and systems will be exposed to a harsh environment. Radioactivity levels near or inside the vacuum vessel can be high enough to prevent conventional electronic imaging systems from functioning properly, possibly leading to complete failure. An equally important issue for supporting inspections and maintenance tasks is the scarcely available space for embarked cameras and their associated cabling, which limits the use of more bulky (sometimes even shielded) radiation tolerant solutions.

To solve this issue, Fusion for Energy (F4E) – the European Union’s organisation, responsible for providing Europe’s contribution to ITER – is developing a miniature radiation hard camera that can withstand unprecedented levels of radiation.

The actual camera is developed jointly by three research laboratories with a proven track record in radiation hardening: the Laboratoire Hubert Curien (University of Saint-Etienne) is responsible for the optical systems, CEA DAM elaborates the illumination systems and ISAE-SUPAERO is in charge of the image sensor design. The whole development is managed by Oxford Technologies Limited (OTL, UK).

Each subsystem has been manufactured, and they are currently being characterised in preparation of the radiation hardness evaluation campaign that will be led by SCK-CEN (Belgium) in the following months.

For the ISAE-SUPAERO image sensor research team, it represents a unique opportunity to apply its expertise in radiation hardening of CMOS image sensors to a very demanding application and to contribute to a very exciting large scale international project.

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