/Photonic design of a coherent imager for solid-state LiDAR

Photonic design of a coherent imager for solid-state LiDAR

PhD - Leuven | More than two weeks ago

Design a novel PIC-based FMCW-capable imager for enabling massively-parallel ranging data acquisition in solid-state LiDAR systems.
Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) systems enable depth imaging in applications such as automotive, robotics and industrial automation. Emerging LiDARs focus on full solid-state architectures (for illumination, scanning and detection) with frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) optical engines. The increasing interest in using coherent detection approaches in SWIR wavelengths (e.g. around 1550 nm) brings advantages such as detection range, eye safety, and immunity to environmental radiation (when compared to direct time-of-flight systems in NIR wavelengths). Furthermore, ongoing developments at imec in on-chip integration of light sources, solid-state beamsteering, low-power fast phase shifters, and photodetectors on Si/SiN photonic platforms create the route for fully integrated solid-state low-cost low-power LiDAR photonic integrated circuits (PICs). One of the challenges in building such systems is the large amount of data that needs to be acquired and processed in a short time (10s of millions of samples per second).

This scaling problem can be overcome by developing FMCW imaging arrays for massively-parallel data acquisition and readout, with on-chip data processing at the pixel level. This approach requires a photonic platform where vertically-incidence SWIR photodetectors are efficiently coupled with the FMCW local oscillator (LO) reference signal and remaining photonic building blocks. The main purpose of this PhD position is to develop a new platform for performing PIC-based mixing of the LO and detected optical signals, with optical efficiency beyond the current state-of-the-art. This will subsequently enable FMCW-capable imaging arrays for LiDAR. The required tasks involve system modelling, photonic component simulations, PIC design and layout, optical characterization, and system demo. The candidate will work in a large and dynamic team of experts in photonic design, IC design and system architecture.

The candidate
We are looking for a highly motivated recent graduate holding a master’s degree in photonics, physics, electrical engineering, or related field. The candidate must have an interest in design, modeling, and characterization of optical systems. Scripting and programming skills are a plus. The candidate is expected to report regularly on the progress and to be a team player, interacting closely with other team members. Good communication skills and excellent knowledge of English are also required, as you will work in an international, multidisciplinary and multicultural team spanning several imec departments.

Required background: Photonics, Nano-Engineering, Physics, Electrical Engineering, or similar

Type of work: 10% literature study, 70% modeling and design, 20% characterization and demos

Supervisor: Paul Heremans

Co-supervisor: Marcus Dahlem

Daily advisor: Roelof Jansen

The reference code for this position is 2022-109. Mention this reference code on your application form.