EPC introduces GaN IC to shrink lidar systems in robotics

The first device in a GaN IC family has been unveiled by Efficient Power Conversion (EPC). The laser driver integrates a 40V, 10A FET with integrated gate driver and 3.3 logic level input in a single chip. It is intended for time of flight (ToF) lidar systems in robotics, surveillance systems, drones, autonomous cars, 3D sensing and vacuum cleaners.

The EPC21601 laser driver is controlled using 3.3V logic at high frequencies exceeding 100MHz to modulate laser driving currents up to 10A. Turn-on and turn-off times are 410 and 320 pico seconds respectively. The EPC21601 can be used with EPC’s eGaN FET, based on its proprietary GaN IC technology in a chipscale BGA form factor that measures 1.5 x 1.0mm. Integrating several functions into the small form factor results in an device that is 36 per cent smaller on the PCB compared to an equivalent multi-chip discrete implementation, says EPC.

The EPC21601 is the first in what will be a family of integrated laser drive ICs available in a chipscale package (CSP).  EPC expects devices in the family to accelerate adoption of ToF systems in multiple end user applications, from vehicles and robotics to domestic appliances.

Alex Lidow, CEO, and co-founder of EPC, commented: “Integrating an eGaN FET plus driver on one chip generates an extremely powerful, blazingly-fast IC and reduces size and cost wider adoption in consumer applications.” He added that he expects the family of GaN ICs to dramatically improve performance while reducing size and cost for time-of-flight lidar systems.

A development board is also available. The EPC9154 features the EPC21601 eToF laser driver IC and is primarily intended to drive laser diodes with short, high current pulses. Capabilities include minimum pulse widths of less than 2 nano seconds, peak currents up to 10A, and bus voltage rating of 30V.

EPC supplies enhancement mode GaN-based power management devices and ICs. The company was the first to introduce enhancement-mode GaN-on-silicon (eGaN) FETs to replace power MOSFETs in applications such as DC/DC converters, wireless power transfer, envelope tracking, RF transmission, power inverters, remote sensing technology (lidar), and Class-D audio amplifiers with device performance many times greater than the best silicon power MOSFETs.


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