TowerJazz and Lumotive demonstrate true solid-state beam steering for automotive LiDAR systems

New IC is based on Lumotive’s innovative liquid crystal metasurface (LCM) technology, enabled by TowerJazz unique process development capabilities

TowerJazz, the global specialty foundry, and Lumotive, the Bill Gates-funded startup developing LiDAR systems for autonomous vehicles, announced the successful demonstration of the first beam steering ICs for automotive LiDAR systems that are fully solid-state (without any moving parts). Based on Lumotive’s unique liquid crystal metasurface (LCM) technology, the advanced IC is expected to deliver superior performance, reliability, and be more compact than competing beam steering solutions while providing longer range, fast response, high resolution, and wider projection angle.

Lumotive’s unique solution to beam steering, based on liquid crystal metasurface technology, enables a truly solid-state LiDAR system with unprecedented range, resolution and frame rate, all crucial requirements for the fast-growing autonomous vehicle market,” said Bill Colleran, President & CEO, Lumotive. “Our partnership with TowerJazz enabled us to achieve this important milestone and will allow us to bring our revolutionary technology to production thanks to both companies’ highly skilled engineering teams and deep domain expertise.

Lumotive’s breakthrough beam-steering ICs uses TowerJazz’s 130 nm Cu Back-end-of-Line technology, customized to meet specific optical performance requirements with optimized lithography and custom dielectrics. Lumotive’s complete LiDAR system based on this beam steering chip coupled with a custom SiPM (Silicon Photomultiplier) sensor, utilizing TowerJazz’s cutting edge SPAD (Single Photon Avalanche Diode) technology, will be available for prototype testing in late 2019.

“We are excited to announce our unique collaboration with Lumotive on their innovative beam-steering technology to achieve a fully solid-state LiDAR. Our extensive automotive solutions and development capabilities, ranging from state-of-the-art SPAD technology, best-in-class power management as well as our advanced SiGe and Silicon Photonics (SiPho) platforms, comprehensively support producing a full suite LiDAR system. Our strong presence in automotive radar, battery management and body power controls, along with a long-term customer aligned roadmap, bring the most advanced foundry solutions for the automotive market needs. We have firm confidence in Lumotive’s proficiency and vision in this breakthrough solution for the Lidar industry,” said Dani Ashkenazi, Vice President and General Manager of Transfer, Optimization and Development Process Services Business Unit (TOPS), TowerJazz.

Research firm Yole Développement estimates that the ADAS and autonomous vehicle LiDAR markets will grow dramatically in the coming years, increasing from $721 million in 2018 to $6.3 billion in 2024, with a CAGR of nearly 45% during that period.