A research group comprising members of the Laboratory of Advanced Optical Communication Sytems and Networks at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and members of the China Aerospace Components Engineering Center at Beijing have recently demonstrated a monolithic FMCW chip. The lidar chip with integrated transceiver array is based on LABS (lens-assisted beam steering) technology.
The system enables beam emitting, steering, receiving and coherent detecting on a single chip with simultaneous distance and velocity detection. The integrated transceiver is designed with a composite structure of a Bragg grating in the middle and a u-shaped photodetector surrounding it. For proof-of-concept demonstration, a chip with 2 × 2 switchable transceiver array was fabricated. A monolithic coherent LABS Lidar system with a scanning angle of 2.86°, and a scanning speed of 5.3 microseconds is implemented for 5-metre ranging and 0.45-m/s velocity detection.
This university research project underlines the efforts which the Chinese industry and government are striving to devise small, cheap lidar sensors. As usual for university research, the results unveil a technology in an early conceptual state and industrial application will take several years of R&D. Nevertheless this proof-of-concept can support the way to a single-chip lidar system.