The challenge: these 3-D imaging systems can be bulky, expensive and hard to shrink down to the size needed for these up-and-coming applications. But CU Boulder researchers are one big step closer to a solution.
In a new paper, published in Optica, they describe a new silicon chip—with no moving parts or electronics—that improves the resolution and scanning speed needed for a lidar system.
“We’re looking to ideally replace big, bulky, heavy lidar systems with just this flat, little chip,” said Nathan Dostart, lead author on the study, who recently completed his doctorate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Current commercial lidar systems use large, rotating mirrors to steer the laser beam and thereby create a 3-D image. For the past three years, Dostart and his colleagues have been working on a new way of steering laser beams called wavelength steering—where each wavelength, or “color,” of the laser is pointed to a unique angle.