Phlux Secures Funding to Market Lidar-Boosting Sensors

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SHEFFIELD, England, Dec. 9, 2022 — Phlux Technology, a designer of high-performance infrared sensors, has secured £4 million ($4.89 million) in a seed funding round to bring its lidar sensors to the mass market.

The Sheffield University spinout uses the semi-metal element antimony in its patented approach to infrared sensing. The proprietary technology reportedly provides 10× greater sensitivity and 50% more range compared to equivalent sensors, while reducing the cost of manufacturing. It is expected to dramatically improve performance in lidar systems.

Out of compliance with Moore’s law for semiconductors, which predicts performance improvement every 18 months, infrared sensors based on indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) have reached a performance plateau, the company said. Antimony, on the other hand, opens access to the 1550-nm infrared space, offering higher sensitivity and capacity since it operates in the “eye safe” region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Well over 1000× the number of photons can safely be launched compared to silicon-compatible emitters, enabling antimony-based sensors to see farther, with greater pixel density at a mass market cost, according to the company.

Ben White, CEO and co-founder of Phlux, said, “Our ambition is to become the Nvidia of the sensor market, starting off with delivering the world’s first lidar sensor chip using antimony. Industry will never achieve full autonomy with lidar if it relies on silicon-based sensors, so our approach will reshape the sensor market for robotics and self-driving machines.”

Phlux Technology was founded by Ben White, CEO, Professor Jo Shien Ng and Professor Chee Hing Tan, who met at Sheffield University where they researched novel semiconductor materials and devices for infrared detection.  Courtesy of Phlux Technologies.
Phlux Technology was founded by Ben White, Jo Shien Ng, and Chee Hing Tan, who met at Sheffield University. There, the trio researched novel semiconductor materials and devices for infrared detection. Courtesy of Phlux Technologies.
In the first stage of commercialization, Phlux developed a single-element sensor that is retrofittable into today’s lidar systems and will be part of its Phyllo series product line. In the longer term, Phlux is building an integrated subsystem and array modules forming a high-performance sensor toolkit. Over the next year, it will grow its engineering team in areas such as fabrication, mixed signal circuit design, optics, and testing.

Beyond robotics and mobility applications, Phlux was recently awarded an Innovate UK project with photonics technology company QLM, developing sensors for a lidar-based camera monitoring greenhouse gas emissions. According to Murray Reed, QLM CEO, the collaboration aims to develop sensors for QLM’s single-photon lidar for the measurement of greenhouse gas emissions.

Published: December 2022
Infrared (IR) refers to the region of the electromagnetic spectrum with wavelengths longer than those of visible light, but shorter than those of microwaves. The infrared spectrum spans wavelengths roughly between 700 nanometers (nm) and 1 millimeter (mm). It is divided into three main subcategories: Near-infrared (NIR): Wavelengths from approximately 700 nm to 1.4 micrometers (µm). Near-infrared light is often used in telecommunications, as well as in various imaging and sensing...
Lidar, short for light detection and ranging, is a remote sensing technology that uses laser light to measure distances and generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape and characteristics of objects and surfaces. Lidar systems typically consist of a laser scanner, a GPS receiver, and an inertial measurement unit (IMU), all integrated into a single system. Here is how lidar works: Laser emission: A laser emits laser pulses, often in the form of rapid and repetitive laser...
In a radiation detector, the ratio of the output to the input signal.
BusinessSensors & DetectorsfundinginfraredMaterialsImaginglidarantimonyPhlux TechnologyUniversity of Sheffieldspinoutstartupseed roundfinancingsensitivityEurope

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