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STMicroelectronics and Metalenz collaborate on pioneering consumer, automotive and industrial optical sensors

China, June 16, 2021-STMicroelectronics (ST; NYSE: STM), a global semiconductor leader serving multiple Electronic applications, and Metaenz, a pioneer in the design and commercialization of ultra-surface technology, jointly announced a In a technology cooperation development and licensing agreement, STMicroelectronics will develop manufacturing processes for Metalenz’s ultra-optical technology to produce next-generation optical sensors for use in smartphones, consumer electronics, medical, and automobiles. Metalenz is a company spun off from the research group of Professor Federico Capasso of Harvard University, the inventor of the technology. This breakthrough technology is expected to be ready for mass production before the end of the year.

Metalenz’s multi-functional metasurface optics allow the next generation of consumer electronics such as smartphones, medical equipment and automotive systems to use new optical sensors. For example, cameras based on this new flat lens technology can collect more light and improve image quality. Brightness, and produces image quality comparable to traditional refractive lenses, or even better images, while lower power consumption and smaller size.

STMicroelectronics and Metalenz collaborate on pioneering consumer, automotive and industrial optical sensors

STMicroelectronics integrates Metalenz’s super-surface optical technology into the existing diffractive optical element manufacturing process of the Crolles 300mm fab in France, giving full play to its leading advantage in the rapidly growing near-infrared (NIR) optical sensor market. Today, STMicroelectronics is the market leader in ToF proximity detection and ranging sensors, with shipments exceeding 1 billion.

Eric Aussedat, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Imaging Business Unit of STMicroelectronics, said: “With its advantages in power consumption, energy efficiency and performance, multifunctional optical technology may change the next generation of optical sensors used in consumer electronics such as smartphones, as well as in medical and automotive applications. The rules of the game. By integrating Metalenz’s advanced technology with our proprietary technology, processing chips on the most advanced 300mm manufacturing equipment at the Crolles factory, this partnership will help ST continue to provide customers with innovative advanced optical transmission Sense of solutions.”

Dr. Rob Devlin, CEO and co-founder of Metalenz, said: “We are very happy to be working with industry leaders like ST. The optical technology developed by Metalenz complements ST’s advanced manufacturing capabilities and market position. Yuanchang business model, so that we can focus on innovation and design pioneering optical technology, completely change smart phones and car gauge optical sensors. Cooperation with ST allows us to expand the product range, while taking full advantage of ST’s large-scale production capacity, The application of Metalenz technology in ST products has allowed ST’s product differentiation to reach new heights.”

Editor’s reference

Today’s mobile phone technology is rapidly evolving and changing, in order to squeeze more and better functions into a compact body. However, since the Middle Ages, the lens has basically not changed. Now, this situation is changing, because metasurface optics technology has brought a new class of lenses whose working principle is very different from traditional lenses. Metasurface optics technology does not use a large spherical lens, but integrates a variety of complex optical functions on a single plane layer, which can reduce the size of each lens, and at the same time reduce the number of lenses required for the lens, thereby greatly reducing The size of the lens, the number of components, the complexity of the assembly, and the total cost are discussed.

The ultra-surface optical technology developed by Metalenz is complementary to ST’s advanced manufacturing capabilities and has complementary advantages. STMicroelectronics integrates semiconductor manufacturing process and optical technology, and uses advanced photolithography masks in semiconductor fabs to construct a modulated diffractive wavefront layer on the metasurface. Like silicon-based chips, metasurface plane lenses are also processed in a clean room, using the same semiconductor manufacturing technology as chips. The size of the nanostructure of these flat lenses is equivalent to one thousandth of the diameter of a human hair, which can refract light in an appropriate way, and achieve the same function as a complex multi-lens refraction lens system on a single layer.

The initial target market for this technology is the fast-growing NIR near-infrared market. NIR wavelengths are used in all 3D sensors, such as facial recognition, camera autofocus, miniature lidar, and AR/VR depth maps. These functions have become standard features in today’s smartphones. In view of these benefits, optical lenses manufactured in semiconductor fabs may one day be widely used like traditional refractive lenses.

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