Breakthrough Chip-Based Beam Steering Technology Paves the Way for Smaller, Cheaper Lidar Systems

The new chip-based beam steering device is a precursor to a smaller and cheaper lidar

Researchers have developed a chip-based beam-steering technology that offers a promising path to low-cost, high-performance and small lidar systems (or light detection-and-ranging). Lidar is a technology that uses laser pulses in order to obtain 3D data about an object or scene. It’s used for a variety of applications, including autonomous driving, 3D holography and biomedical sensors.

Hao Hu, the leader of the research team at Technical University of Denmark, said that optical beam steering was a key component of lidar systems. However, mechanical beam steering systems were bulky, expensive and sensitive to vibration. They also had a limited speed. The chip-based optical arrays (OPAs), which can steer light non-mechanically, have a poor beam quality, and their field of vision is typically less than 100 degrees.

Hu and coauthor Yong Liu discuss their new chip-based OPA in Optica. This OPA solves many problems that plagued OPAs. The device is able to eliminate an optical artifact called aliasing. It can achieve beam steering across a wide field of view, while maintaining high beam-quality. This combination could improve lidar systems.


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