GaN eToF laser driver IC can lower lidar system cost, says EPC

Time-of-flight (ToF) lidar applications including robotics, 3D security cameras, 3D sensing and vacuum cleaner can benefit from the EPC21701, an 80 V laser driver IC, said Efficient Power Conversion (EPC). The 80V, 15A GaN eToF laser driver IC, the EPC21701, is capable of 15A pulsed current, suitable for ToF lidar applications.

The monolithic device integrates an 80V, 40A FET with gate driver and 3.3V logic level input. The IC is tailored for lidar systems for gesture recognition, ToF measurement, robotic vision or industrial safety, said EPC.

The EPC21701 laser driver uses 5.0V supply voltage and is controlled using 3.3V logic. It is capable of high frequencies greater than 50MHz and super short pulses down to two nanoseconds to modulate laser driving currents up to 15A. Voltage switching time is less than one nanosecond and delay time from input to output is less than 3.6 nanoseconds. 

The EPC21701 is a single-chip driver plus GaN FET using EPC’s proprietary GaN IC technology in a chip-scale BGA form factor that measures only 1.7 x 1.0 x 0.68mm.   

The wafer level packaging is small with low inductance, added EPC. The small form factor and the integration of several functions mean that the overall solution is 36 per cent smaller on the PCB compared to an equivalent multi-chip discrete implementation, said EPC.

The 80V EPC21701 complements the ToF driver IC family in chip-scale package (CSP) that also includes the 40V, 15A EPC21601 and the 40V, 10A EPC21603 devices.

Integrated devices in a single chip are easier to design, easier to layout, easier to assemble, said EPC and additionally save space on the PCB, increase efficiency, and reduce cost to enable faster adoption of ToF across a wider array of end user applications.

Alex Lidow, CEO, and co-founder of EPC, commented: “Integrating a GaN FET with driver on one chip generates an extremely powerful and fast IC and reduces size and cost for wider adoption in consumer and industrial applications.” The EPC21701 extends the family and Lidow confirmed that the company will soon announce a further extension to 100V and 125A.

The EPC9172 development board features the EPC21701 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 two nanoseconds, 15A peak currents, and bus voltage rating of 40V. 

The EPC21701 and EPC9172 are available for immediate delivery from Digi-Key.

Designers interested in replacing silicon MOSFETs with a GaN device can use EPC’s GaN Power Bench, a cross-reference tool, to find a suggested replacement. The tool can be accessed on the EPC website.

EPC specialises in enhancement mode gallium nitride (eGaN) -based power management. eGaN FETs and ICs provide performance many times greater than the best silicon power MOSFETs in applications such as DC/DC converters, remote sensing technology (lidar), motor drives for eMobility, robotics, and drones, and low-cost satellites.

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