MEMS and Sensors

Production begins on first optical beamforming chip

02 May 2024

SkyWater Technology and Lumotive have started production on what they claim is the world’s first programmable optical metasurface that has been commercialized into a mass-producible chip.

Lumotive’s optical beamforming chip uses SkyWater’s technology as a service (TaaS) model. The chip was developed in less than two years by the companies and has been qualified in SkyWater’s production environment.

The companies added that this will establish it as the first commercially available chip-scale beam steering solution for solid-state lidar.

Called the LM10, the chip is being shipped to vendors for qualified 3D sensors. The companies said the light control metasurface (LCM)-based chip will allow for dynamic scanning and software-definable capabilities for solid-state lidar for precision and adaptable interaction in the physical world in real time.

“The capability to shape and steer light with a single chip is already revolutionizing applications such as 3D sensing, with many more on the horizon,” said Gleb Akselrod, founder and CTO of Lumotive.

What is optical beamforming?

Optical beamforming is used in a range of applications including laser communications and lidar for imaging and remote sensing.

Beams of light can be shaped, split and steered electronically with digital precision and repeatability. This is a change from traditional mechanical methods and allows for advantages such as:

  • Compactness
  • Durability
  • Speed
  • Precision
  • Power consumption
  • Reliability
  • Flexibility
  • Scalability

The technology could be used in the next generation of industrial sensors, robotics, autonomous vehicles and other 3D sensing applications.

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