GaN FET Driver with Fast Switching Enables Better Resolution in Solid-State LiDAR Systems

pSemi (formerly Peregrine), has introduced the PE29101 gallium nitride (GaN) field-effect transistor (FET) driver for solid-state light detection and ranging (LiDAR) systems. It boasts the industry’s fastest rise times and a low minimum pulse width. The high-speed driver enables design engineers to extract the full performance and switching speed advantages from GaN transistors. In solid-state LiDAR systems, faster switching translates into improved resolution and accuracy in the LiDAR image. It was introduced at the ongoing IMS 2018 event in Philadelphia.

LiDAR operates on the same principles as radar but instead uses pulsed lasers to precisely map surrounding areas. Traditionally used in high-resolution mapping, LiDAR is now used in advanced-driver assistance programs (ADAS) and is widely seen as an enabling technology to fully autonomous vehicles. Furthermore, solid-state LiDAR has emerged as the future leader in the commercialization of LiDAR systems, largely due to its affordability, reliability and compact size compared to mechanical sensors.

In LiDAR systems, the pulse laser’s switching speed and rise time directly impacts the measurement’s accuracy. To improve resolution, the current must switch as quickly as possible through the laser diode. GaN technology offers LiDAR systems superior resolution and a faster response time because of its very low input capacitance and its ability to switch significantly faster than metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs).

GaN FETs must be controlled by a very fast driver to maximize their fast-switching potential. Increasing the switching speed requires a driver with fast rise times and a low minimum output pulse width. The PE29101 offers these key performance specifications, enabling GaN technology to improve LiDAR resolution.

The PE29101 is a half-bridge FET driver that controls the gates of GaN transistors. The driver outputs are capable of providing switching transition speeds in the sub-nanosecond range for switching applications up to 40 MHz. It has a rise/ fall time of 1 ns with 100 pF load and a minimum output pulse width of 2 ns. It operates from 4V to 6.5V and can support a high side floating supply voltage of 80V. The PE29101 has an output source current of 2A and an output sink current of 4A. Offered as a flip-chip die, PE29101 volume-production parts, samples and evaluation kits are available now. For 1K quantity orders, each PE29101 is $2.79 USD.

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