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Solid-state lidar technology

Use imec’s photonics platforms to develop your custom-made building blocks, such as optical phased arrays (OPA), for next generation on-chip lidar.

Solid-state lidar has been an exciting research topic for quite a while. And now it’s finding its way into commercial products.

Especially automotive applications, such as ADAS technologies, are craving compact, robust and inexpensive systems for 3D mapping  a car’s surroundings. Other applications for on-chip lidar are drone-enabled land surveying, robotics, wind monitoring, surveillance, and virtual reality.

Want to build your own solid-state lidar system? Tap into imec’s integrated photonics and optical beamforming platform to gain access to all the necessary building blocks.

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Solid-state lidar vs mechanical lidar

There are many reasons why today’s mechanical lidar technologies don’t meet the demands of tomorrow’s applications:

  • They’re too bulky and costly for elegant integration into devices such as cars, VR devices and mobile lidar systems.
  • They often depend on experts for their operation and calibration, which further adds to the price tag.
  • They’re composed of moving parts,  making them vulnerable to vibrations and shocks.

Moreover, the angular resolution of mechanical lidars does not meet the requirements needed for activities such as long-range scanning. For example: to resolve a cm-scale object from 200-300 m, you need an angular resolution in the order of 0.01°.

By integrating all lidar components on one integrated circuit, solid-state lidars overcome all these drawbacks. They’re compact, contain no moving parts, and can be mass-produced (wafer level) at a relatively low cost per device.

Only a solid-state lidar can direct a signal over a hundred meters of distance with an accuracy of a fraction of a degree.

Imec’s platform for solid-state lidar

Whether you’re building a time of flight (ToF) or frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) lidar system, imec’s generic platform offers you the mature building blocks you need. Both standalone SiN and SiN-on-SOI technologies combine:

  • the high-power handling, low propagation loss, and low phase noise of SiN
  • the efficient phase shifting, compact circuits, and integrated detectors of silicon

Explore this article for a deep dive into the technology. And this press release on our collaboration with Scantinel.

Moreover, imec’s solid-state lidar technology uses an on-chip detector array to ease the calibration without looking at the far field. This capability for on-chip calibration will reduce the complexity and maintenance cost of your lidar system even more.

Want to work with us on your next-generation lidar application?

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