23 February 2021
EPC launches eToF laser driver IC family for LiDAR
Efficient Power Conversion Corp (EPC) of El Segundo, CA, USA – which makes enhancement-mode gallium nitride on silicon (eGaN) power field-effect transistors (FETs) and integrated circuits for power management applications – has introduced the first of a new family of gallium nitride (GaN) laser driver integrated circuits (ICs) offering higher performance and smaller solution size for time-of-flight (ToF) light detection & ranging (LiDAR) applications including robotics, surveillance systems, drones, 3D sensing, autonomous cars and and vacuum cleaners. The laser driver integrates a 40V, 10A FET with integrated gate driver and 3.3 logic level input in a single chip.
The EPC21601 laser driver is controlled using 3.3V logic and is capable of very high frequencies exceeding 100MHz and super short pulses <2ns to modulate laser driving currents up to 10A. Turn-on and turn-off times are 410ps and 320ps, respectively. The EPC21601 is a single-chip driver plus eGaN FET using EPC’s proprietary GaN IC technology in a chip-scale BGA form factor that measures only 1.5mm x 1.0mm. With this small form factor and the integration of several functions, the overall solution is reckoned to be 36% smaller on the printed circuit board (PCB) compared with an equivalent multi-chip discrete implementation.
The EPC21601 is the first offering in what will be a wide-range family of integrated laser drive ICs available in a chip-scale package (CSP). Integrated devices in a single chip are easier to design, easier to layout, easier to assemble, save space on the PCB, increase efficiency, and reduce cost, says EPC. This family of products will enable faster adoption and increased ubiquity of ToF solutions across a wider array of end-user applications, it adds.
“Recent advances in our GaN IC technology are poised to change the way time-of-flight LiDAR systems are designed,” expects CEO & co-founder Alex Lidow. “Integrating an eGaN FET plus driver on one chip generates an extremely powerful, blazingly fast IC and reduces size and cost wider adoption in consumer applications. This new family of GaN integrated circuits will dramatically improve the performance while reducing size and cost for time-of-flight LiDAR systems,” he reckons.
The EPC9154 development board features the EPC21601 eToF laser driver IC and is primarily intended to drive laser diodes with short, high-current pulses. Capabilities include minimum pulse widths of <2ns, 10A peak currents, and a bus voltage rating of 30V.
The EPC21601 eToF laser drive IC is priced at less than $1 at 500ku. The EPC9154 development board is $465.23. Both are available for immediate delivery from distributor Digi-Key Corp.