14 September 2021
NeoPhotonics launches tunable, high-power FMCW laser and SOA for coherent LiDAR in AVs and industrial sensing
NeoPhotonics Corp of San Jose, CA, USA – a vertically integrated designer and manufacturer of silicon photonics and hybrid photonic integrated circuit (PIC)-based lasers, modules and subsystems for high-speed communications – has launched a tunable high-power FMCW (frequency-modulated continuous-wave) laser module and high-power semiconductor optical amplifier (SOA) chips. Both components are optimized to enable long-range automotive light detection & ranging (LiDAR) and high-resolution industrial sensing applications. The FMCW laser is C-band tunable and can be directly modulated to provide >21dBm (126mW) fiber-coupled power and a narrow-linewidth FMCW optical signal. The SOA chip is designed for integration with PIC LiDAR engines and provides >23dBm of optical output power.
The new high-output-power SOAs and FMCW lasers are based on NeoPhotonics’ photonic integration platform and improve sensitivity and range, which enables automotive LiDAR systems to ‘see’ considerably further than 200m, allowing for enhanced safety. Both products operate in the 1550nm band, which is believed to be more eye-safe, and are currently being sampled to key customers. In addition, tunable FMCW laser sources enable LiDARs with configurable operating wavelength, further enhancing the immunity of coherent LiDARs to external light interference.
Coherent LiDAR (i.e. FMCW LiDAR) uses coherent technology to greatly increase range and sensitivity by measuring the phase of the reflected light instead of relying only on intensity measurements. NeoPhotonics says that it pioneered coherent technology for communications applications and implemented it in PICs using the firm’s indium phosphide (InP) and silicon photonics integration platforms. Coherent LiDAR systems require similar chip-scale manufacturing to reduce costs and enable high volume.
Coherent detection, whether for LiDAR or communications applications, uses PICs to extract phase and amplitude information from the optical signal. Narrow-linewidth and low-phase-noise lasers are required for precise phase measurements, and high optical power is required to compensate for optical loss in the silicon photonics optical chips and to provide a sufficient return signal from distant objects for efficient detection. NeoPhotonics’ narrow-linewidth laser and SOA can be used together or separately to optimize the LiDAR module performance.
“We are excited to apply our high-volume photonic integration coherent technology, which we have honed for over a decade, to the adjacent market of LiDAR and autonomous vehicles,” says chairman & CEO Tim Jenks. “The benefits of coherent technology and the physics enabling it mean we can bring the same benefits to customers in these new markets that we have brought to communications customers for many years.”