Looking back at history the Dutch MicroNed technology development program has been instrumental in establishing Lens R&D. The program aimed at using MEMS technology to miniaturize satellite systems and led to the development of the Delfi-C3 satellite by the university of Delft in cooperation with a number of other Dutch companies.
Several known and lesser known companies and institutes in the Netherlands cooperated to the development of this satellite which famously led to the existence of the Dutch company Innovative Solutions In Space (www.isispace.nl). The company was started by five students of the university of Delft and 15 years later is still the fastest growing space company in the Netherlands.
Lesser known is that indirectly Lens R&D also started up from the foundations laid down by the MicroNed program.
As can be seen, the Delfi-C3 satellite flew 2 autonomous wireless SunSensors (AWSS) developed by TNO as part of a program called micro-digital Sunsensor or µDSS. The intention of the program was to develop a small but radiation hardened low power true digital Sunsensor.
Small so as to fit on a small satellite
Radiation tolerant because TNO only worked with ESA and large system integrators and knew that radiation tolerance would be crucial to acceptance for flight
Low power as the idea was to power the sensor independently from the satellite power system with a dedicated solar cell
True digital because albedo generated errors are the largest problem faces when using analogue Sunsensors.
Although two AWSS sensors are still flying on the Delfi-C3 satellite and a mini-digital Sunsensor was developed that showed good results, the program never progressed into the development of a real autonomous digital Sunsensor. Instead of this, it led to the start of Lens R&D.
The MEMS technology used to produce accurate membranes and the wirebondable housing integrated connector technology used to enable automated assembly were first tried within the MicroNed program before further optimisation by Lens R&D.
The valuable experience gathered during the development of the APS+ (the dedicated CMOS chip developed for the digital Sunsensor implementation) has been and will be used during the development of the new IBIS true digital Sunsensor.
At this moment in time Lens R&D only sells, analogue fine Sunsensors for which the production has been optimised for volume production.
The BiSon64-ET and BiSon64-ET-B have shown to be very radiation tolerant and highly resilient to environmental loading. they are the only fine Sunsensors specified for a -125°C..+125°C temperature range on the market today. As a result, the sensor is under consideration for more exclusive applications like on rovers planned for the Moon or even a moon of Jupiter.
The smallest sensor sold is the cubesat version MAUS. Based on the same Diode and membrane the radiation tolerance is almost equal (with only less shielding in the back). With a proven radiation tolerance of 9.2Mrad on the bare diodes (and 1mm Al equivalent shielding provided by the Sapphire window) the sensors are orders of magnitude more radiation tolerant than other available cubesat Sunsensors. using double wirebonds to interconnect the electrical components, the reliability is mainly determined by the connector and again orders of magnitude higher than other cubesat Sunsensors.
With customers demanding longer lifetimes of their satellites and cubesats planning to go beyond LEO, radiation tolerance and reliability in general will become more important in the future and the Lens R&D sensors have shown through tests to be able to withstand the hardships imposed on a Sunsensor during a long duration mission to far away places. Where we may not have the best performance on paper we do have proof that we meet (and exceed) the performance contrary to some of our competitors.
As such we are confident that our market share will increase with increasing maturity of the market and are looking forward to serving every customer that needs a reliable (and affordable) safe mode solutions for his or her satellite.