30 Nov 2023
Startup makes available chips needed to build ‘random modulation continuous-wave’ sensors for automotive applications.
Baraja, the startup company developing what’s said to be a unique approach to automotive lidar, has begun sampling the various components needed to make the sensors.
The Sydney, Australia, firm, which also has a base in Silicon Valley, announced that “A-Samples” of all the integrated components needed to build its “Spectrum-Scan” system were now available for automotive integration.
The approach is based on random modulation continuous-wave (RMCW) scanning - similar to the frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) technology being developed by others in the industry, and based around a tunable laser and dispersive optics.
In a blog post CEO and co-founder Federico Collarte wrote: “We’re announcing the availability of all these chips that combine to make the world-first Doppler RMCW Spectrum-Scan lidar.
“The beauty of the solution is that the technologies developed to get to these chips self-reinforce and make possible further integration in the future.”
The integrated components include a semiconductor optical amplifier (SOA) that combines the amplifier chip with a custom-developed high-efficiency thermo-electric cooler, inside a hermetically sealed, automotive-grade package.
“It's able to amplify the laser light to achieve [greater than] 200 meter range requirements, while being mass-producible and 50-80 times smaller and lower power consumption compared to fiber amplifiers used by legacy 1550 nm lidar, including Baraja's own ‘Off-Road’ first generation product,” claims the firm.
The either key component is a bi-directional optical sub-assembly (BOSA) that integrates three types of chips inside a temperature-controlled enclosure measuring just 3 x 3.5 cm.
The BOSA features an indium phosphide laser chip, a homodyne receiver chip based on silicon photonics, and transimpedance amplifier devices.
“These, plus micro-optics and automotive-grade thermo-electric coolers deliver an end-to-end solution to produce and receive the wavelength-tunable laser light that is the hallmark of Spectrum-Scan, so in a sense the BOSA also partially integrates the ‘steering’ job of the lidar,” Baraja explained.
Collaboration on offer
Collarte added that the novel lidar approach uses the changing wavelength of the laser paired with dispersive optics to steer the light at different angles, with several of the optical functions of lenses and prisms integrated within the chip components.
“The same principle enables the optics to capture the light returning from the environment and couple it back into the fiber-optic receiver,” he wrote. “Thus, Spectrum-Scan is used for both transmit and receive, and it inherently builds a spatial and wavelength optical filter that prevents interference from sunlight and other lidar sources.
“Our Spectrum HD 2025 product incorporates micro-optics and a silica chip for dispersion and steering; and beyond [that] we’ve developed and tested a waveguide chip that further integrates and miniaturizes most of the optical components into a single chip [that] will be available for our next generation.”
Cibby Pulikkaseril, Baraja’s CTO and another co-founder, commented: “I'm pleased to share that now with our A-Samples available, we're right on track to launching Spectrum HD 2025 C-samples/General Availability in 2025.
“If you want to have access to this truly transformational technology it's a great time to work together.”