AES Semigas


27 January 2022

TRUMPF and Metalenz demo VCSELs with stable polarization for smartphone illumination

At Photonics West 2022 in San Francisco (22-27 January), TRUMPF Photonic Components GmbH of Ulm, Germany (part of the TRUMPF Group) - which manufactures vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) and photodiodes for the consumer electronics, datacoms, industrial sensing, heating and automotive markets - presented a live showcase on VCSELs with controlled polarization for illumination applications.

TRUMPF says that it is building on more than 15 years of experience in the production of polarization-stabilizing gratings. Together with Metalenz, a Boston-based pioneer in designing and commercializing meta-optics, TRUMPF has demonstrated how next-generation consumer electronic devices benefit from smaller and smarter components.

Both companies demonstrated that, with their new components, in future only half or even less optical components are needed to support bright, 3D scene illumination of smartphone cameras. Not only the amount of components but also the space between components can be reduced. Smartphone makers can hence gain a competitive advantage from these compact components, it is reckoned.

Multiple functions integrated on one VCSEL chip

The showcase at Photonics West demonstrated how to easily switch between two illumination patterns using limited amount of optical components. By using a VCSEL with stable and advanced linear polarization and putting meta-optics on top of the VCSEL, only two smart components are needed to create both the function of flood illumination as well as the structured light illumination.

Next generation of polarized VCSEL

TRUMPF has developed the patented technology of VCSELs with stable polarization, which is locked by a surface grating that is directly etched into the gallium arsenide (GaAs). Polarized VCSELs achieve almost 100% of the efficiency compared to standard VCSELs, regarding a slope efficiency of 1W/A. The high quality is based on TRUMPF’s own designs and processes to realize extremely low losses.

The design of the VCSEL can come with a single mesa or as an array. “With our development of polarized VCSELs we are addressing demanding 3D illumination applications not only in smartphones but also in OLED screens or in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications. Market release of our next-generation, advanced polarized VCSEL is intended to be in 2023“, says TRUMPF Photonic Components’ CEO Berthold Schmidt. “Working together with Metalenz enables us to visualize the promising solution for illumination within smartphone devices,” he adds. Not only the form factor and the optical system complexity can be reduced by the next generation of VCSEL in combination with the right optics, but also the illumination quality is improved by the controlled light. The laser light is only projected to where it is needed, so the resolution is increased, even for longer distances, and overall power savings can be reached. The laser components in a smartphone can be used for illumination applications such as face recognition, 3D mapping or camera autofocus.

“Together with the VCSEL from TRUMPF we show how two leading-edge technologies can revolutionize the technical standards in smartphones for light illumination,” says Carlos Calvo, VP of product at Metalenz. “We are happy to demonstrate the high quality in illumination together with TRUMPF. The laser diodes and our meta-optic technology are a perfect complement,” he reckons.

See related items:

TRUMPF Photonic Components ships two billionth VCSEL/photodiode product