TRUMPF Photonic Components, a global leader in VCSEL and photodiode solutions, presented at Photonics West a live showcase on VCSEL with controlled polarization for illumination applications. TRUMPF builds on more than 15 years of experience in the production of polarization-stabilizing gratings. Together with Metalenz, a Boston based pioneer in designing and commercializing meta-optics, TRUMPF demonstrated how next generation consumer electronic devices benefit from smaller and smarter components.
Both companies demonstrated that with their new components, in future only half or even less optical components are needed to support bright, 3D scene illumination of smartphone cameras. Not only the amount of components, but also space between components can be reduced. Smartphone manufacturers can get a high technical competitive advantage from these compact components that lead to a smaller building space.
Multiple functions integrated in one VCSEL chip
The showcase at Photonics West demonstrated how to easily switch between two illumination patterns using limited amount of optical components. By using a VCSEL with stable and advanced linear polarization and putting meta-optics on top of the VCSEL, only two smart components are needed to create both the function of flood illumination as well as the structured light illumination.
The next generation of polarized VCSEL
TRUMPF has developed the patented technology of VCSELs with stable polarization, which is locked by a surface grating, that is directly etched into the GaAs. Polarized VCSELs achieve almost 100 percent of the efficiency compared to standard VCSELs, what refers to a slope efficiency of 1 W/A. The high quality is based on TRUMPF own designs and processes to realize extremely low losses. The design of the VCSEL can come with a single mesa or as an array. “With our development of polarized VCSELs we are addressing demanding 3D illumination applications not only in smartphones, but also in OLED screens or in virtual reality and augmented reality applications. Market release of our next generation, advanced polarized VCSEL is intended to be in 2023“, says Berthold Schmidt, CEO at TRUMPF Photonic Components. “Working together with Metalenz enables us to visualize the promising solution for illumination within smartphone devices”, says Schmidt. Not only the form factor and the optical system complexity can be reduced by the next generation of VCSEL in combination with the right optics, but also the illumination quality is improved by the controlled light. The laser light is only projected to where it is needed, therefore, the resolution is increased, even for longer distances, and overall power savings can be reached. The laser components in a smartphone can be used for illumination applications such as face recognition, 3D mapping or camera autofocus.
“Together with the VCSEL from TRUMPF we show how two leading edge technologies can revolutionize the technical standards in smartphones for light illumination”, says Carlos Calvo, Vice President of Product at Metalenz. “We are happy to demonstrate the high quality in illumination together with TRUMPF. The laser diodes and our meta-optic technology are a perfect complement”, Calvo adds.