“MiSPiA” (Microelectronic Single-Photon 3D Imaging Arrays for low-light high-speed Safety and Security Applications) is a new Collaborative research project funded by the European Commission in its Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007-2013), and was launched in June 2010 under the coordination of the Politecnico di Milano, Dipartimento di Elettronica e Informazione.
MiSPIA aims at two clearly identified 3D applications: high frame-rate, short-range (10-50m) 3D ranging systems for automotive prompt intervention for front- and back- pre-crash safety systems; and multi-spectral long-range (200-1,000m) 3D ranging systems for security surveillance. In the automotive field, moving or standing objects/obstacles to detect are vehicles, bicycle and pedestrian, small objects (trees, poles, etc.). Possible preventive or protective actions will be pre-crash warning (e.g. an acoustic warning signal), collision mitigation, pre-tensioning of safety belts, pre-setting of air bags.
The MiSPiA concept is to provide simultaneously both high frame-rates and single photon sensitivity chips with monolithic integration of Single-Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD) pixels and sophisticated in-pixel intelligence able to process at the pixel-level intensity-data and depth-ranging information, enabling 3D mapping of rapidly changing scenes in light starved environments. In fact, SPAD array chips will be able not only to count single photons (“single-photon counting”), but also to accurately tag them with their arrival time (“single-photon timing”) and so provide a full image (“single-photon imaging”) of the scene under observation.
MiSPIA consortium consists of 7 partners, who are among the leading European research groups in the fields of SPAD arrays and single-photon instrumentation (Politecnico di Milano, Italy), CMOS sensors fabrication and advanced SOI processes (Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Foerderung der Angewandten Forschung E.V., Germany), design and fabrication of microlens arrays (Heriot-Watt University, United Kingdom), development of time-correlated single-photon counting detection modules and cameras (Micro Photon Devices s.r.l., Italy), safety applications in automotive field (Centro Ricerche Fiat scpa, Italy), then a leader in the security surveillance monitoring (EMZA Visual Sense Ltd, Israel) and finally CF consulting srl (Italy) with vast experience in the management and dissemination of European projects.
The MiSPIA Project will have major impacts on technological fields, application environments and end-user needs, because MiSPIA technology will define a new paradigm in the fields of silicon photonics and microelectronics integration. The European Union will become more and more competitive against USA, Japan and Canada.