This week editor Bruce A. Bennett shares photos and observations from the SPIE Photonics West  exhibition in San Francisco. Read his post from Day 1.

Flavor of the Month

This year’s hot tech topic on the show floor is LiDAR. Many of the companies I met with had everything from components to complete systems on display, and the buzz about this emerging market is that it’s going to be huge.

One of the more interesting LiDAR products on display was ON Semiconductor’s Pandion 3D Time-of-Flight SPAD array. SPAD is an acronym for “single photon avalanche diode,” which is just a small digital photo sensor that provides binary information. A SPAD array is a group of SPADs that do not all sum to a common output.

ON Semiconductor’s Pandion 3D Time-of-Flight SPAD array
The Pandion 3D Time-of-Flight SPAD Array. (Image Credit: Bruce A. Bennett)

The Pandion array features a 400 x 100 large format and a rolling shutter readout, making it suitable for use in both short range flash or long range scanning. To show off its capabilities, they had a Pandion Dual-Mode LiDAR demo (pictured) continuously running in the ON Semiconductor booth. They also announced their first LiDAR partnerships with RoboSense, Bickfield, SoS Labs, and MicroVision.

Quantum Leaps

Another area of technology getting some serious attention this year is the use of lasers to perform research in the field of quantum computing. I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the pioneers in this field, Dr. Graeme Malcolm OBE, CEO and founder of Glasgow-based M Squared, about some of the advanced laser systems his company has developed for scientists at institutions like the University of Wisconsin.

M-Squared's Graeme Malcolm (Image Credit: Bennett)

Another company heavily involved in developing lasers and other instruments for quantum computing research is Spectra Physics, part of the MKS Instruments group (see the image at the very top of the article). According to Sr. Project Manager Herman Chui, it’s a rapidly expanding market with plenty of potential for the future.

Get a Job

Speaking of MKS Instruments, they were one of over 20 high-tech companies looking to recruit talent at this year’s job fair, held on Tuesday and Wednesday during Photonics West. Some of the other companies participating were Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Coherent, Hamamatsu, BAE Systems, and Intel.

the job fair at SPIE Photonics West 2020 in San Francisco.
Companies look for talent at this year's SPIE Photonics West show. (Image Credit: Bennett)

What do you think? Share your thoughts and questions about lasers and LiDAR below.