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SemiNex Laser Diode Enables 250m Range LiDAR

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Eye-safe 1550nm laser diode has more than 20 times the photons/second and over three times the range of 905 nm LiDAR systems

SemiNex Corporation has announced a patent-pending, multi-junction, semiconductor laser diode at eye-safe wavelengths between 1310 nm and 1550 nm. According to the company the laser diode has more than 20 times the photons/second and over three times the range of 905 nm LiDAR systems.

The new laser diode enables autonomous LiDAR systems to reach greater than 250m. Present solutions limit visibility to 100m, requiring a vehicles speed to be at 25 mph or less.

For the past ten years LiDAR manufacturers have taken two laser approaches for time-of-flight LiDAR systems: 905 nm laser diodes or 1550 nm fibre lasers. The 905 nm laser diodes suffer from limited range due to eye-safety regulations and the 1550 nm fibre lasers are impractical for mass market deployment because of their size and cost. Until now, there was no solution that offered the low-cost, small size, and efficiency of 905 nm laser diodes with the eye-safety and extended range of 1550 nm fibre lasers.

“The SemiNex multi-junction laser diode changes everything,” states Ed McIntyre, SemiNex director of sales and marketing. “Now there is a low-cost, long-range, eye-safe alternative to 9XX nm diodes and 1550 nm fibre lasers.”

“The SemiNex multi-junction laser diodes will allow vehicles to autonomously navigate at higher speeds that can't be achieved with the existing technology; this could finally enable driverless cars to be a reality within the next five years,” adds McIntyre.

The multi-junction laser diode is a drop-in replacement for most compact laser drivers used for existing 9XX nm diode systems. It makes use of three monolithic solid-state laser junctions that produce 80 watts at 1550 nm with 95 um aperture width and yield more than three tines the power of current laser diodes at this wavelength. Product samples are available immediately and the multi-junction is ready for immediate high volume production.

Typical time-of-flight LiDAR systems using multi-junction 905 nm lasers are limited to a range of 100 metres due to eye safety acceptable emission limits (AEL) of International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) regulations, thus limiting their use to niche applications such as private security systems, warehouse automation, and limited-use public driving functionality.

“SemiNex invested three years in research & development to create a long-range and cost-effective solution to overcome the short-range limitations of existing technologies. We see this as a major game changer and believe it will revolutionise the way major LiDAR companies approach this challenge,” said David Bean, CEO of SemiNex Corporation.

Today, the LiDAR market for automotive and industrial applications is expected to be $981 million and limited to short range applications. However, with improvements in technology and broader acceptance, the market is expected to grow to $2.8 billion by 2025. A major challenge with the existing LiDAR technology for autonomous vehicles has been to find a cost-effective semiconductor laser diode that can provide high peak power at eye-safe wavelengths for long range applications.

The SemiNex device can be operated at pulse widths between 2 ns and 100 ns at 200 kHz to 400 kHz pulse repetition rate.

The multi-junction device is available in double and triple junction configurations in various packaging and submount configurations. Samples in either TO-9 or bare die configuration at 1550nm are available for immediate delivery.

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