Demonstration of an integrated FMCW LiDAR system using 1D optical phased arrays

Leuven - Master projects/internships
More than two weeks ago

Build a simple LiDAR photonic chip demo using imec’s state-of-the-art fabrication technologies

The development of autonomous vehicles is pushing the envelope of research in low-cost compact solid-state LiDAR systems. The technology is also used in land surveying, and has potential applications in space, security and defense, and robotic systems. A LiDAR provides machine 3D vision by mapping out the surrounding environment, providing information on location, direction and velocity of objects within its range. In combination with other traditional sensing technologies (imagers, RADAR, ultrasound), LiDARs will be key enablers for future smart mobility platforms. The principle of operation of a LiDAR (which operates in the visible or near-infrared domain) is similar to its more mature counterpart RADAR (which uses radio frequencies). The main building blocks of a LiDAR link include a laser source, a beam steering element, an optical receiving system with photodetection, and control/processing electronics. In most commercial LiDARs currently in the market, the ranging information (location, direction, velocity) is computed based on the roundtrip Time of Flight (ToF) of laser pulses that travel from the source to the object and back to the photodetector. While this approach is suitable and very effective for some applications, it presents practical limitations for dense and highly-interconnected sensing clouds. A frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) scheme is an alternative coherent processing engine that offers some advantages over ToF. In particular, it can operate at lower laser powers with cheaper photodetectors, and is immune to background illumination (from both environment and other LiDARs operating simultaneously). The focus of this thesis project is to build an integrated FMCW LiDAR using imec’s Si and/or SiN platforms. The LiDAR steering element will be a 1D optical phased array (OPA) already developed in our lab. The work will be developed in the Photonic Microsystems group, which has extensive experience in developing photonic integrated circuits.

The project includes the following components:
  • Literature review on FMCW LiDARs
  • Modeling (in Matlab) of 1D optical phased arrays, based on antenna theory
  • Design and layout of a simple FMCW chip
  • System integration of the OPA and the FMCW chip
  • Basic ranging experiments in the lab

  • The candidate is expected to have a solid background in Applied Physics, Electrical Engineering, or Nanotechnology
  • Experience with Matlab is a plus
  • Some experience with optical laboratory equipment is desired
  • Strong English communication skills are required
  • Candidate should be self-motivated, responsible, independent and creative
How to apply:

Interested candidates should send a cover letter, academic transcript, CV and contacts of 3 references to Dr. Marcus Dahlem and Tangla Kongnyuy.



Type of project: Thesis


Required degree: Master of Science

Required background: Electrotechnics/Electrical Engineering, Nanoscience & Nanotechnology, Physics

Supervising scientist(s): For further information or for application, please contact: Tangla David Kongnyuy ( and Marcus Dahlem (

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