NeoPhotonics has introduced a new, tunable high power FMCW (frequency-modulated continuous-wave) laser module and high power semiconductor optical amplifier (SOA) chips.

A developer of silicon photonics and advanced hybrid photonic integrated circuit-based lasers, modules and subsystems, NeoPhotonics said that the components had been optimised to enable long range automotive lidar and high resolution industrial sensing applications.

The FMCW Laser is C-band tunable and can be directly modulated to provide >21dBm (126mW) fibre coupled power and a narrow linewidth FMCW optical signal. The SOA chip is designed for integration with Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC) lidar engines and provides >23dBm optical output power.

These new high output power SOAs and FMCW lasers are based on NeoPhotonics photonic integration platform and improve sensitivity and range, which enables automotive lidar systems to “see” considerably farther than 200 meters, allowing for enhanced safety. Both products operate in the 1550 nm band, which is believed to be more “eye safe”, and are currently being sampled by key customers. In addition, tunable FMCW laser sources enable lidars with configurable operating wavelength thus further enhancing the immunity of coherent lidars to external light interference.

Coherent lidar, also called FMCW lidar, uses coherent technology to greatly increase range and sensitivity by measuring the phase of the reflected light instead of relying only on intensity measurements. The technology was pioneered by NeoPhotonics for communications applications and implemented in PICs using NeoPhotonics Indium Phosphide and Silicon Photonics integration platforms. Coherent lidar systems require similar chip-scale manufacturing to reduce costs and enable high volume.

Coherent detection, whether for lidar or communications applications, uses photonic integrated circuits (PICs) to extract phase and amplitude information from the optical signal. Narrow linewidth and low phase noise lasers are required for precise phase measurements and high optical power is required to compensate for optical loss in the Silicon Photonics optical chips and to provide a sufficient return signal from distant objects for efficient detection. NeoPhotonics narrow linewidth laser and SOA can be used together or separately to optimise the lidar module performance.