“There is hardly a platform – whether underwater, on land, in the air, or in space that we are not present,” says Dan Slasky, CEO of SCD, one of Israel’s leading semiconductor defense companies. SCD was established some forty years ago, in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, with the realization that the IDF needed to improve its night vision capabilities. The company has grown from a small lab in the 70s into a high-tech company that is among the world’s largest developers and producers of infrared and night vision detectors.
“We develop unique chips and products that enable infra-red (IR) night vision for many types of applications,” explains Slasky. He ticks off a list of systems that integrate SCD chips and products, such as commander and gunner sites for tanks and armored vehicles, handheld systems used by soldiers, short- and long-range imaging systems, and missile seekers that are used in systems such as Israel’s renowned Iron Dome missile defense system, and more. While SCD supplies the Israeli military with top-of-the-line technology for strategic and tactical systems, notes Slasky, approximately 70% of its revenue comes from the export of its products to many countries worldwide.
SCD develops a wide range of technologies, ranging from semiconductors to the product level. “We have a vast amount of technical expertise including material science, physics, microelectronics, image processing, designing of integrated circuits with VLSI (very-large-scale integration), programming, packaging and more everything under one roof,” he notes. The sheer number of different technologies that are being developed, quips Slasky, has made SCD into a “playground for engineers.” The company has subsidiaries in the United States and the United Kingdom, and in other locations around the world, in addition to its Israeli headquarters in the northern Galilee. SCD’s fabrication infrastructure (FAB), where it produces its semiconductor devices, is one of the largest FABS of its type in the world, Slasky says.
In addition to developing high resolution and high sensitivity infrared detectors, SCD is pioneering what Slasky calls “smart imaging,” in which infra-red detectors can not only see in the dark or in adverse weather conditions, but can actually extract important information from the scene.
While most of SCD’s work is in defense-based systems, it has also established a large footprint in the commercial and industrial markets. For example, recent regulations in the United States and Europe limit the amount of gas that can be extracted in industrial operations. The company has thus developed unique IR detectors for remote sensing that can detect gas emissions from afar. SCD’s sensors are also used in machine vision technology for product lines, helping filter and improve product quality in consumer production lines.
Looking ahead, Slasky says that adding more intelligence to sensors is the next significant trend in the field. “The whole artificial intelligence theme is being implemented in many different vectors,” he says. “There is a lot of information that is detected– whether it is physical or data. However, the user needs to attain only the relevant information that they need and when they need it – here enters the “smart imaging” aspect.”
Commenting about the effects of the pandemic on the company, Slasky says, “We needed to make a lot of adjustments.” The company was organized into different shifts, while relevant marketing and development teams worked from home. Ultimately, says Slasky, “people need to be on campus in a “hybrid” structure since human interaction is required to enable innovation and engagement.”
SCD has been ranked by an independent IR market survey as number one in the world in mid-wave infrared detectors, known as cooled detectors, and in short-wave IR military detectors. It has been growing significantly over the past five years – and today is Israel’s fourth-largest defense company with orders exceeding $200 million per year. In analyzing the company’s success, Slasky says that SCD invests a significant amount in research and development, has excellent production capabilities, and has managed to identify trends in technology that have significant impact in the world of infra-red. He expects that the need for IR technology will increase on all platforms in the next several years. “Our vision is to continue growing, implementing novel and smart solutions inside infra-red imaging systems, and to be one of the top three companies in the world for IR detector solutions.”
This article is taken from The Jerusalem Post Israel Technology and Innovation Magazine 2022. To read the entire magazine, click here.
This article was written in cooperation with SCD