Vertical-Cavity, Surface-Emitting Lasers (VCSELs) are an ideal diode laser source for illumination applications due to inherent uniform and circular beam emission. Due to the vertical emitting structure, the beam emits a symmetrically circular beam with narrow divergences in the ~20° range. This eliminates the need for complicated optics required in edge-emitting lasers (EELs) and provides VCSELs with a simple, elegant solution for manipulating the beam. In addition, VCSELs produce low speckle imagery commonly seen with LED illumination. In contrast, speckle noise plagues EEL illumination systems. The uniform, speckle-free illumination quality from VCSELs provides the end user with the high-resolution and quality currently lacking from typical laser illumination systems.
For long range illumination applications VCSELs are a preferred choice over LEDs for SWAP-minded solutions. The higher powers and efficiencies achievable with VCSELs enable compact solutions for long distance (100-1000+ meter) illumination. VCSELs also provide improved eye-safety margins compared to edge-emitting lasers.
VCSELs can also be used in sensor applications where more collimated light, or longer ranges, are required. Applications such as altimeters or proximity sensors can benefit from using a VCSEL light source. Miniature, SWAP-centric high-performance designs are possible when using VCSELs. Platforms and example applications for VCSELs may include, UAVs, automotive, rangefinders, gesture recognition, robotics, fixed mounts, security cameras, etc. Current VCSELs are offered in the near infrared (NIR) and short-wave infrared (SWIR) wavelength ranges.