Solid-State LiDAR Uses Metasurface, Sees 360°

A research team created a solid-state LiDAR sensor with a 360° field of view (FOV). Made of the metasurface, an ultra-thin flat optical device one-thousandth the thickness of a human hair strand, the new sensor is attracting attention as an original technology enabling an ultra-small LiDAR sensor.

The metasurface can greatly increase the viewing angle of LiDAR, allowing it to recognize objects in three dimensions. The research team increased the viewing angle of the LiDAR sensor to 360°. To do so, they modified the design and periodically arranged the metasurface’s nanostructures.

The researchers scattered more than 10,000 dot arrays (light) from the metasurface to objects. They photographed the irradiated point pattern with a camera to extract three-dimensional information about objects in 360° regions.

The solid-state LiDAR sensor is used in the iPhone’s face recognition feature (Face ID). The iPhone creates point sets using a dot projector device. Still, it has several limitations: the uniformity and viewing angle of the point pattern are limited, and the device is large.

The study is significant because nano-optical elements are used in the technology that allows cell phones, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) glasses, and autonomous robots to recognize 3D information in their surroundings. It is simple to print the new device on various curved surfaces, such as glasses or flexible substrates, using nanoimprint technology, allowing applications to AR glasses, known as the core technology of future displays.

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