Digital correlator for Photon correlation
ASIC implementation results in more than 200% speed increase, 1/5 power consumption and substantial cost reduction
Technologies used

Digital ASIC

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    332 Instruments and appliances for measuring, checking and testing
    334 Optical instruments
ALV-Laser Vertriebsgesellschaft m.b.H. (ALV) develops, manufactures and sells instruments for Photon Correlation Spectroscopy applications, specially, but not limited to, Laser Light Scattering application. Photon Correlation Spectroscopy (PCS) is widely used in several research applications (physical chemistry, bio-chemistry, polymer science etc.), but the application can very well be extended to routine oriented work, such as "sub-Ám particle sizing", for example. ALV was founded in 1981 and per 10/99 has 12 employees.

The electronic key component for PCS instruments is a Digital Correlator which computes a correlation function from a time series of detected single photons at very high speed and in real time. ALV's traditional PC-based digital correlators lack correlation speed for all such PCS experiments requiring very short sampling times in the sub 10 ns regime. Furthermore, due to the realisation using "hard-wired" ICs in combination with FPGAs, large size PCBs are required which, in combination with the relatively high power consumption, prevent both, multi input channel correlation, which would require multiple such correlators, as well as hand-held instruments which, with using the available correlators, seems neither from the size aspect, nor from the power consumption aspect feasible. However, higher correlation speed, the possibility of multi-channel detection as well as potential use of PCS in hand-held application are the key ingredients to preserve the market share and/or even further improve ALV's competitive position - an additional substantial production cost reduction of the digital correlators would further ease this.

For these reasons, the AE was conducted which allowed ALV to overcome the know-how and financial barriers which so far prevented ALV to make use of ASIC technology.

ALV acquired experience in ASIC design, design tool use and design/test methodologies. This knowledge can directly be used to develop new ASIC based products in the future. All initial barriers to apply ASIC technology were overcome and the result are two correlator building blocks, which show substantially improved performance over the existing products in all above noted aspects, namely correlation speed, size and power consumption. In addition, the manufacturing cost could be substantially reduced. With these building blocks, significant increase in turnover and profit can be expected.

The AE was started in April 1998 and ran for 18 months. The total project cost up to the prototype stage was 135 kEuro. Sales increase will enable ALV to recover the FUSE investment in 40 months with a ROI over five years of product life of 158%. In the context of the AE, one additional employee was employed by ALV.
ALV-Laser Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH
Robert-Bosch-Strasse 46
63225 Langen

Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

Digital ASIC technology provided ALV-Laser Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

FUSE provides you with:

  • Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
  • Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.

Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.

Further information   Guiding Technology Transfer Node
For further information and support regarding this case study, please contact a Technology Transfer Node (TTN) in your region.
Homepage: http://www.fuse-network.com
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