Sensors

SiPM dToF LiDAR platform for range finding applications

10th November 2020
Alex Lynn

ON Semiconductor has introduced a single point direct Time-of-Flight dToF LiDAR solution enabled by the company's Silicon Photomultiplier (SiPM) technology. The application of light detection and ranging, or LiDAR, is growing across all sectors, including robotics and industrial proximity sensing where millimetre range accuracy is mandatory.

It is typically based upon the dToF method, which measures the time it takes for a pulse of light, normally in the Near Infrared (NIR) wavelength range, to travel to and from an object.

While the principle is simple, its application can pose challenges, for example, environmental factors such as high levels of ambient solar light. To determine range accurately, the receiver needs to capture as much of the signal as possible. Traditional photodiodes suffer here, in terms of response time and sensitivity.

The Silicon Photomultiplier (SiPM) sensor developed by ON Semiconductor, overcomes these shortfalls by providing faster response times and high detection efficiency. The reference platform uses the RB-Series, ON Semiconductor's second generation of SiPM sensors, which deliver improved performance in red and the NIR range.

The SiPM dToF LiDAR Platform developed by ON Semiconductor provides a complete solution for low cost, single point LiDAR that OEMs can adapt and take into production to create industrial range finding applications. It includes the NIR laser diode, SiPM sensor and optics, as well as the digital processing necessary to convert the detected signals into elapsed time, and elapsed time into distance.

To accelerate customers' time to market, ON Semiconductor has made all of the design data for the reference platform available, covering the schematics, BoM, gerber files, and PCB design files. A PC-based GUI is also accessible, which provides a graphical representation of the measurements over time. The histograms generated provide further evidence of the system's capabilities in applications such as range finding, collision detection and 3D mapping.

“Range finding using dToF LiDAR delivers on a critical need for many applications, extending from autonomous navigation through mapping to monitoring. However, developing such a system based on dToF LiDAR can be challenging,” said Wiren Perera who heads IoT at ON Semiconductor. “This platform clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of this leadership technology. The availability of a proven design enables our customers to get to a proof of concept much faster, and rapidly deliver their product to market.”

The SiPM dToF LiDAR Platform can detect objects at distances between 10cm and 23m. It offers an out-of-the-box experience using the provided GUI, which allows engineers to start evaluating the technology immediately. The design is FDA Class 1 certified and compliant with IEC / EN 60825-1:2014 and 21 CFR 1040.10/ 1040.11 laser safety standards.

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