A Large-Scale Microelectromechanical-Systems-Based Silicon Photonics LiDAR


Three-dimensional (3D) imaging sensors allow machines to perceive, map and interact with the surrounding world1. The size of light detection and ranging (LiDAR) devices is often limited by mechanical scanners. Focal plane array-based 3D sensors are promising candidates for solid-state LiDARs because they allow electronic scanning without mechanical moving parts. However, their resolutions have been limited to 512 pixels or smaller2. In this paper, we report on a 16,384-pixel LiDAR with a wide field of view (FoV, 70° × 70°), a fine addressing resolution (0.6° × 0.6°), a narrow beam divergence (0.050° × 0.049°) and a random-access beam addressing with sub-MHz operation speed. The 128 × 128-element focal plane switch array (FPSA) of grating antennas and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)-actuated optical switches are monolithically integrated on a 10 × 11-mm2 silicon photonic chip, where a 128 × 96 subarray is wire bonded and tested in experiments. 3D imaging with a distance resolution of 1.7 cm is achieved with frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) ranging in monostatic configuration. The FPSA can be mass-produced in complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) foundries, which will allow ubiquitous 3D sensors for use in autonomous cars, drones, robots and smartphones. A large focal plane switch array is constructed to steer the laser beam of a LiDAR system, leading to 3D imaging with 16,384 pixels, improving the resolution and coverage of solid-state LiDARs.

Publication date: 
March 9, 2022
Publication type: 
Journal Article
Zhang, X., Kwon, K., Henriksson, J. et al. A large-scale microelectromechanical-systems-based silicon photonics LiDAR. Nature 603, 253–258 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-022-04415-8

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