ESPROS Photonics: Shaping a New Paradigm of Time-of-Flight Technologies

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Uly Grisette, Managing Director at ESPROS Photonics., ESPROS PhotonicsUly Grisette, Managing Director at ESPROS Photonics.
In the current scenario, merging 3D imaging and optical sensors for mass applications, such as TOF and LiDAR, demands time resolving capabilities as fast as 100fps with high sensitivity in the near-infrared (NIR) domain. However, conventional CMOS or CCD manufacturing processes and designs lack robustness against typical environmental conditions like background light, moving objects, and significant variations in target reflectivity. These sensor devices also require complex and expensive peripheral components such as field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), high-speed analog-to-digital (A/D) converters, and voltage controls that result in bulky solutions.

To this end, ESPROS Photonics, a world-class foundry, product, and technology solutions provider for optoelectronics manufacturers, imager designers, and researchers, has developed a backside-illuminated imager that merges CCD and CMOS technology while improving near-infrared optical performance and quantum efficiency. The company’s true system-on-chip (SoC) TOF imager enables improved time-delayed imaging (TDI) and fluorescent lifetime imaging (FLIM) outcomes. Headquartered in Switzerland with subsidiaries in the USA and China, its highly skilled workforce consists of a broad range of experts in semiconductors, TCAD, mixed-signal IC design, microcontroller firmware, image processing software application, optics, camera module assembly, and more.

ESPROS Photonics offers a wide range of TOF sensor modules and miniature 3D cameras using its proprietary OHC15L silicon imager technology. The company’s novel technology provides highly efficient ambient light suppression capacity, NIR quantum efficiency of over 70 percent, and CCDs with a clock speed of more than 250MHz, combined with powerful mixed-signal CMOS in a cost-effective package.
By leveraging their years of experience in imagery design, its engineers understand customer requirements and aim to design custom ASICs to meet those needs in the shortest time with minimal implementation risks.

“A key aspect to our growth as a custom ASIC module designer and manufacturer is our hands-on approach in helping clients analyze an application, offering recommendations and solutions that speed-up time-to-market,” states Uly Grisette, managing director at ESPROS Photonics. Typically, the company’s pixel design team uses 3D TCAD software from Synaptics with an ESPROS-specific extension to develop and simulate photonics features. However, it provides customers the flexibility with its PDK for Cadence tools to draw their customized imager design. ESPROS Photonics also offers a range of evaluation kits consisting of fully assembled and tested camera systems to help customers understand the functions and performances of their products. The company provides a design toolbox consisting of designed and in-use IP to facilitate a low-risk but rapid-design speed implementation of new ASICs.
  • A key aspect to our growth, as a custom ASIC chip manufacturer and 3D TOF module designer, is our hands-on approach in quickly helping clients analyze an application. We offer proven engineering solutions including off the shelf reference design 3D modules that speedup one’s time to market


A hallmark of ESPROS Photonics’ is Swiss precision, quality, and innovation at the core of its driving forces that guarantee the highest quality of manufacturing processes and long-term compliance in various industries. The efficacy of its solutions is further illustrated by an instance where a client’s security application failed to classify and distinguish between people, owing to poor light sensitivity. ESPROS Photonics’ high-performance TOFcam-660 helped the client control illumination and imager chip to generate distance and grayscale images against ambient light, temperature, and reflectivity of the scene. With its latest technology of 3D depth sensing and unique ambient light suppression, the TOFcam-660 mitigated the complex engineering and time-consuming design for the client’s security application in many cases, even under full sunlight conditions.

Since the early 2000s, TOF’s versatile and reliable technology has revolutionized a new generation of 3D camera sensors, from consumer electronics and industrial building automation to robotics and automotive. The technology has opened entirely new avenues of implementation, offering higher spatial resolution than radar, ultrasonic sensors, or stereo cams with a speed of millions of frames per second in a cost- and time-effective manner. Forging ahead, ESPROS Photonics continues to grow organically by investing and collaborating to develop new market product offerings. With its significant global footprint, the company has extensive plans to demonstrate the capabilities of its 3D chipsets and help customers benefit from faster time-to-market for advanced tools, such as simulation, across every industry.
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ESPROS Photonics

Company
ESPROS Photonics

Headquarters
Sargans, Switzerland

Management
Uly Grisette, Managing Director at ESPROS Photonics.

Description
ESPROS Photonics, a world-class foundry, product, and technology solution provider for optoelectronics manufacturers, imager designers, and researchers, has developed a backside-illuminated imager that merges CCD and CMOS technology while improving near-infrared optical performance and quantum efficiency. The company’s true system-on-chip (SoC) TOF imager enables improved time-delayed imaging (TDI) and fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) outcomes.