Effective area formulation for thermal detector characterization

Anand S. Gawarikar, Ryan P. Shea, Joseph J. Talghader

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have derived an expression for the effective absorbing area for thermal infrared detectors having non-zero absorption in the support legs, which is different from the geometric areas of the constituent detector elements. This technique is particularly applicable to devices where sensitivity is more important than fill-factor, as opposed to standard imaging arrays. The effective area can simply be substituted in standard equations to obtain a good estimate of the detector performance under uniform flood illumination conditions. The formalism can also be used for estimating the contributions of the individual signal generating elements to the total measured signal. This approximation has been tested for MEMS infrared detectors with thermoelectric readout operating under vacuum. The responsivity of the same device calculated using the effective area approximation and measured using a tightly constrained absorbing area are found to match very closely, within 5% over the most wavelengths and within 15% at the shortest thermal infrared wavelengths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6678074
Pages (from-to)549-554
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Microelectromechanical Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Bolometers.
  • Infrared detectors


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