Ultrafast driver for high-power, multi-channel LiDAR laser introduced

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An ultrafast laser driver with a high-power, multi-channel surface-mount (SMT) laser for LiDAR (light detection and ranging) systems announced by Osram Opto Semiconductors GmbH of Regensburg, Germany. Osram partnered with GaN Systems Inc of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (a fabless developer of gallium nitride-based power switching semiconductors for power conversion and control applications) to develop the laser driver technology enabling longer-range and higher-resolution LiDAR architectures.

Osram has been expanding its LiDAR laser portfolio continuously to accommodate the customer needs, including the peak power of its SPL DS90A_3 to 120W at a current of 40A. Additionally, Osram’s plan for 2029 is to release an SMT laser with four channels, increasing the field of view and total peak power with each channel able to generate 120W.

One of the issues with LiDAR technology has been its inability to transmit lasers at short pulses, while maintaining high peak power, which is necessary to ensure that the LiDAR is eye safe with a long range and high resolution. To address this need, Osram worked with GaN Systems to develop a laser driver with a 1ns pulse rise time, while driving all four channels at 40A each to deliver 480W peak power, which can then be modulated at low-duty cycles to produce high-resolution 3D cloud points at long range for new LiDAR designs.

“Operating at the elevated current levels and nanosecond rise times necessary for long-distance LiDAR requires the high power, high frequency and robust thermal performance that are the hallmarks of GaN Systems’ products,” says GaN Systems’ CEO Jim Witham. “It is great to see the industry recognize these performance attributes and leverage them for its systems.”

Scanning LiDAR is a key technology for advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), which is designed to increase road safety and enable autonomous driving. These electronic devices react instantly to potential collisions without wasting precious seconds of reaction time. Scanning LiDAR creates high-resolution 3D images of a car’s surroundings and registers obstacles early enough for ADAS or self-driving cars to initiate the appropriate driving maneuvers, such as automatic braking to prevent collisions.

“Osram enables LiDAR technology for autonomous vehicles by not only developing high-power, multi-channel SMT lasers that meet automotive quality standards, but also working with eco-system partners like GaN Systems to address the technological barriers that arise,“ says Osram Opto’s Senior Marketing Manager Rajeev Thakur.

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