Tower makes beam-steering IC for Lumotive

June 27, 2019 //By Peter Clarke
Tower makes beam-steering IC for Lumotive
Specialty foundry Tower Semiconductor Ltd. (Migdal Haemek, Israel), which trades as TowerJazz, has manufactured a beam-steering IC based on liquid crystal metasurface technology for Lumotive LLC (Bellevue, Washington).

Lumotive was founded in 2017 to develop solid-state lidar for the automotive industry based on metamaterials deployed with semiconductor chips. The liquid crystal metasurface allows an incident laser beam to be reflected in a programmable direction, depending on the electronic configuration of the metamaterial elements on the surface of the chip. The company is backed by Bill Gates.

The IC uses Tower's 130nm CMOS process with copper in the back-end-of-line customized to meet Lumotive's optical performance requirements. This includes optimized lithography and custom dielectrics.

Lumotive's lidar also makes use of a custo silicon photomultiplier sensor made use single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) technology from Tower. The system will be available for prototype testing in 4Q19, Tower said.

"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 platforms, comprehensively support producing a full suite lidar system," said Dani Ashkenazi, general manager of the technology transfer business unit, within Tower, in a statement.

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 percent during that period.

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