Compact sensor provides long-distance proximity detection

24th October 2016
Alice Matthews

An ambient light optoelectronics sensor by Vishay Semiconductors is now being distributed by New Yorker Electronics. The Vishay VCNL4100 is an ambient light sensor and also a proximity sensor with long-distance proximity detection up to one metre. It combines a high-power IR emitter and photo detectors for proximity and ambient light.

It also has signal processing IC and an 8-bit /16-bit ADC in a compact 8x3x1.8mm surface-mount package.

The three-in-one sensor features an interrupt function and supports I²C bus communication interface for smart home, industrial and office applications.

Offering a five-fold increase in proximity detection over previous-generation devices, the VCNL4100 provides presence detection for display activation in printers, copiers and home appliances; collision avoidance in toys and robots; lighting control in offices, corridors, and public buildings; lavatory appliance activation; and vehicle occupancy detection in parking lots. Containing the circuitry needed for these applications in one device, the sensor eliminates the need for additional light barriers and optical alignment of the IR emitter and photo diode. The device’s small outline saves space and gives design engineers greater flexibility in where and how they locate the sensor.

The ambient light and proximity sensors of the VCNL4100 operate in a parallel structure, and each offers a programmable interrupt function with high and low thresholds that allows the sensor to wake up an application from a low-power mode, reducing the overall power consumption of an application. The device’s Filtron technology enables ambient light spectral sensitivity close to that of the human eye while offering excellent background light cancellation capabilities.

The VCNL4100’s built-in ambient light photo diode offers detection from 0.01lx-5.2klx, allowing the device to operate in applications with dark or high-transparency lens designs. The 16-bit sensor offers fluorescent light flicker immunity and excellent temperature compensation from -40 to 85°C. The VCNL4100’s 8-bit proximity sensor uses intelligent cancellation to eliminate cross-talk, while a smart persistence scheme ensures accurate sensing and faster response time. The emitter wavelength peaks at 940nm and has no visible 'red-tail'.

The device offers a supply voltage range of 2.5-3.6V and I²C bus voltage range from 1.8-3.6V. Offered in a lead (Pb)-free 10-pin molded package, the sensor is RoHS-compliant, halogen-free, and Vishay Green.

Key features:

  • Integrated modules: Infrared Emitter (IRED), Ambient Light Sensor (ALS), Proximity Sensor (PS), and signal conditioning IC
  • Operates ALS and PS in parallel structure
  • Filtron technology adoption for robust background light cancellation
  • Supports low transmittance (dark) lens design
  • Temperature compensation: -40 to 85°C
  • Low power consumption I2C (SMBus compatible) interface
  • Floor life: 168h, MSL 3, according to J-STD-020


  • Presence detection to activate displays in printers, copiers, and home appliances
  • Collision detection in robots and toys
  • Proximity sensing and lighting control in offices, corridors and public buildings
  • Vehicle occupancy detection in parking lots
  • Proximity detection in lavatory appliances

Featured products

Upcoming Events

View all events
Latest global electronics news