Enables Detection of Faint Galaxies Created at the Beginning of the Universe

Rockwell Science Center (RSC, NYSE:ROK) has announced the successful
development of the world’s largest infrared image sensor for detecting
the small amounts of heat radiated from distant celestial bodies. The
sensor’s high resolution and exceptional electrical properties provide
an unprecedented ability to detect very faint galaxies created at the
beginning of the universe. The device has the sensitivity to record
images below one-billionth the level of typical room light.

The sensor was developed for deep-space astronomy, including
next-generation telescopes, as part of a two-year program funded by a
consortium of observatories led by the University of Hawaii. This
breakthrough in infrared image sensors has nearly 4.2 million picture
elements, or pixels, and over 13 million transistors. The latter
number exceeds the number of transistors found on most of today’s
state-of-the-art computer chips.

“This is a breakthrough development that will enable astronomers
to explore the farthest reaches of space,” said Derek Cheung,
Rockwell’s vice president for Research and director of the Science

Rockwell’s imager is unique in having a very high percentage of
working picture elements compared to other high performance infrared
sensors used for astronomy. A total of 99.98% of the pixels are
operational in the 2048×2048 device. Each pixel is made from Mercury
Cadmium Telluride, a compound used for infrared sensing. Light with
wavelengths between 0.9 microns and 2.5 microns can be detected with
the sensor.

A key element of the array is its complementary metal oxide
semiconductor (CMOS) electronics that can precisely read the infrared
light from each detector element and convert it to a usable signal.
This device, which measures 4 cm x 4 cm, is the largest known CMOS
chip in the world. It was fabricated using an advanced,
high-performance, low noise mixed signal CMOS process developed by
partner Conexant Systems, Inc. in their semiconductor wafer
fabrication facility.

The first of the new sensors is currently on its way to the
University of Hawaii, Institute for Astronomy. Subsequent devices will
be delivered to the European Southern Observatory and the Subaru
Telescope, the two additional founding members of the consortium, for
use in their giant telescopes on Cero Paranal, Chile and Mauna Kea,
Hawaii. Many other organizations worldwide are already queuing up to
obtain the sensor. An even larger 4096×4096 infrared sensor is being
planned for development in the future by the Rockwell Science Center.

RSC is also developing infrared sensors for use in a new infrared
camera for the Hubble Space Telescope and the Next Generation Space
Telescope (NGST). “Once NGST is sent into orbit with an array of these
sensors constituting about one hundred million pixels,” said Cheung,
“we will be able to see galaxies formed at the beginning of the
universe with clarity.”

The Rockwell Science Center is a leading industrial research and
development laboratory, performing work in the physical and
information sciences for Rockwell’s businesses, the U.S. Government
and various commercial customers.

Rockwell is a $7 billion electronic controls and communications
company with global leadership positions in industrial automation,
avionics and communications, and electronic commerce. The company
employs about 40,000 people at more than 450 locations serving
customers in more than 80 countries.


     Jerry Risto, 805/373-4538