Osram and GaN Systems Develop Ultrafast and High-Power Laser Driver for LiDAR

January 03, 2019 by Paul Shepard

Osram Opto Semiconductors has introduced an ultrafast laser driver with a high-power, multi-channel Surface Mount (SMT) laser for LiDAR (Light detection and ranging) systems. Osram partnered with GaN Systems to devise the laser driver technology that enables longer range and higher resolution LiDAR.

Osram has increased the peak power of the SPL DS90A_3 to 120W at 40A. In addition, Osram intends to release a four-channel SMT laser in 2019. The additional channels expand the field of view and increase total peak power. Each channel is capable of generating 120W.

One of the problems with LiDAR technology has been its failure to transmit lasers in short pulses while maintaining high peak power. Both short pulse and high peak power are required to make LiDAR long range and high-resolution LiDAR that is also eye safe.

To meet these requirements, Osram worked with GaN Systems to create a laser driver featuring a one nanosecond pulse rise time while it drives all four channels at 40A each to provide 480W of peak power. This peak power then can be modulated at low-duty cycles to generate high-resolution 3D cloud points at long range for new LiDAR designs and configurations.

“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,” said Jim Witham, CEO of GaN Systems.

“It is great to see the industry recognize these performance attributes and leverage them for its systems,” Witham concluded.

Osram points out that scanning LiDAR is a critical technology for Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) which is designed to enhance road safety and enable autonomous driving. These systems react almost instantly to possible collisions without wasting precious reaction time. Scanning LiDAR produces high-resolution 3D images of a car’s surroundings and registers obstacles soon enough for ADAS or self-driving cars to begin the proper driving maneuvers, including automatic braking to avoid 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,“ said Rajeev Thakur, Senior Marketing Manager at Osram Opto Semiconductors. “Our lasers are leading the way to make autonomous driving a reality for everyone.”