Optical phased arrays

Revolutionary imaging and sensing with robust Photonic Integrated Circuits

Miniature optical phased arrays (OPAs) are powering a revolution in high-resolution remote sensing. Using superfast laser beam scanning they detect both speed and distance simultaneously, driving a multi-billion dollar application in autonomous vehicle sensing. Other valuable applications include sensors for industry and satellite-based earth observation.

Forerunners to the current state-of-the-art suffered from reliance on bulky optical components and fragile moving parts. Not only were these systems difficult and expensive to manufacture at scale, but their large size and weight prevented use in many emerging applications.

The next generation of OPAs employ integrated photonics for precision operation without moving parts. The result is rugged, high performance components with costs low enough for revolutionary mass market applications.

The benefits of integrated photonics for OPAs

Using integrated optics, LioniX International is fabricating nanoscale optical components directly into Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC) chips. This approach has several benefits:

Smaller and lighter with lower power consumption

Miniature OPAs built into PICs enable efficient transfers of power between components and have no moving parts, resulting in a system with much lower power consumption.

Robustness

PICs are much more resistant to mechanical shocks than systems relying on separate components or those with moving parts. Temperature regulation across a PIC is also straight-forward, increasing the operating temperature range and reducing sensitivity to temperature variations.

Precision optics

Monolithic microfabrication processes enable very high precision optics, with tolerance of tens of nanometres on component features. The components that can be realized through these methods enable very tight control over the phase of the light, essential for high fidelity beam scanning.

Cost reduction and volume scaling

The bulk microfabrication processes used to manufacture PIC-based OPAs are highly scalable. This is driving down costs towards a target of <$500 per OPA for mass-market sensing applications.

Next generation OPAs at LioniX International

With low-loss TriPleX™ waveguides, novel tunable optics and expertise in integrating high-performance active components, LioniX International enables OPA improvements including:

A wide choice of wavelengths

Our silicon nitride waveguide platform is transparent from 400nm to 2350nm, enabling unparalleled flexibility in the use of different colors of light.

High-speed beam steering

Solid-state beam scanning relies on fast tunable optics. LioniX International’s novel stress-optic tuning elements offer tuning rates up to a thousand times faster than other optical tuning components (e.g. thermo-optic modulators).

Ultra-low power consumption and denser features

Our stress-optic beam steering offers power consumption many orders of magnitude lower than thermo-optic tuners. Furthermore, without the thermal cross talk from heater-based tuners, tuning elements can more densely packed for smaller chip sizes.

Hybrid integration for tailored performance

We specialize in hybrid OPA modules that combine the best performing lasers, modulators and low-loss waveguides. This approach means we are not tied to one platform. We put the functionality where it fits best and tailor device performance to your application.