The development of LiDAR systems is paving the way for driverless cars, robotics and many other applications related to geological and industrial uses. However, in order to reach the mass market, manufacturers will need components that meet exact performance standards at reasonable cost. BOROFLOAT®33, a technical float glass made by SCHOTT, is gaining traction in LiDAR applications because of its excellent material properties at agreeable prices.
LiDAR works much like radar, but it uses light instead of sound. That makes LiDAR faster, more accurate, and able to interpret surroundings in much finer detail.
In forestry, LiDAR can assess the density of the tree canopy. After a storm, LiDAR can measure coastal erosion. Researchers used LiDAR to map an ancient Mayan megalopolis hidden by the jungle in Guatemala. It’s also used to map the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a massive accumulation of floating plastic littering the world’s largest ocean.
And those are just the airborne applications.
Car manufacturers are spending millions of dollars to test and evaluate LiDAR for autonomous driving vehicles. These LiDAR units need to collect and process an enormous amount of data, with minimal signal interference, in harsh situations that require thermal stability and mechanical strength.
The component quality has a tremendous impact on system performance. Glass plays a major role, as it is used as entrance window and in optical elements such as filters and mirrors, which directly influence signal strength.
Standing up to real world conditions
Used as an entrance window, BOROFLOAT® provides extremely high light transmission while remaining strong, lightweight, and resistant to potential corrosive environments or thermal changes. High transmission at the relevant laser wavelength is especially important as it ensures that light passes unimpeded through the entrance window, which serves as a protective cover for the components inside. If the entrance window impairs the LiDAR signal, it will not see its surroundings accurately.
BOROFLOAT® glass also has a very strong microstructure, resulting in high material hardness, excellent abrasion resistance, and low degradation behavior during high-intensity radiation exposure.