Fun with VCSELs and the iPhone 8

The iPhone 8 is notable because it is the first iPhone that contains lasers--two to be exact.

Allen Nogee 720

The iPhone 8 is notable because it is the first iPhone that contains lasers--two to be exact. The iPhone 8 contains a lower-power vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) pointing backward and another higher-powered VCSEL facing forward. If you own an iPhone 8, you are holding these lasers in your hand right now but probably never knew it.

What do they do? First, they assist the iPhone 8’s camera to understand the scene the camera is viewing, and they assist with camera autofocusing. Second, the laser sensors assist virtual reality applications to understanding their physical environment, in the same way autonomous vehicles use lidar and cameras to understand their physical environment.

Lumentum is producing the majority of the VCSELs that Apple is using in their iPhones, but Apple will also buy some additional VCSELs from other manufacturers like Finisar and II-VI. While the iPhone 8 is the first Apple smartphone using VCSELs, they have been used in a variety of other smartphones for several years now. The LG G3 contained a VCSEL autofocus system back in 2014, and today a variety of Android smartphones contain VCSEL autofocus systems.

To read the full blog from Allen Nogee, click here.

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