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Finisar opens site to ramp VCSEL production

Optical communication component supplier, Finisar, has opened a manufacturing facility in Sherman, Texas to increase the production capacity of its VCSELs and related 3D sensing technologies.

Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VCSELs) were originally used by Finisar in its optical communication products, but they are now finding their way into consumer and scientific applications including 3D facial recognition, augmented reality, automotive in-cabin sensing, and automotive lidar. Finisar has produced more than 300 million VCSEL die over its history.

The new building, formerly owned by MEMC and SunEdison, has been under renovation since December 2017 and is on target to commence production by the end of 2018. The ribbon-cutting event was held on 9 July.

‘Finisar is excited to unveil this new state-of-the-art facility which will expand critical production capacity of our VCSEL products needed to support customer requirements,’ said Michael Hurlston, Finisar’s CEO. ‘We are also pleased to create hundreds of manufacturing jobs in the US and to hire talent from the local area as we work together to make Sherman the VCSEL capital of the world.’

The new facility is currently certified as clean room operational and the first production tooling has been installed and qualified. The company has hired nearly 200 employees, including the operations and support staff necessary to begin production.

Finisar expects to expand hiring further later this year to support the anticipated ramp to high-volume production.

VCSEL arrays for autonomous vehicles are being developed that offer an alternative to 905nm and 1,550nm lasers, the two main light source contenders for automotive lidar. Finisar demonstrated a 1,550nm coherent transmitter and receiver module for next-generation lidar at the Sensors Expo trade fair, which took place in San Jose, USA from 27 to 28 June.

Finisar’s lidar coherent optical engine is designed to enable long-distance resolution at up to 300 metres for applications such as autonomous driving vision systems. The small package integrates a wavelength-tuneable laser, a transmitter phase modulator, and a coherent receiver. The laser can be tuned across 4THz, allowing solid-state beam steering to replace less reliable rotating mirrors and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). The phase modulator and coherent detection enable the distance and velocity of an object to be determined from a single scan using the Doppler Effect.

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