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Obtained nearly 100 million yuan in Pre-A, dToF and PCI ICs products will start to deliver consumer and industrial customers

36Kr was informed that Shenzhen PolarisIC Co., Ltd. (Hereinafter referred to as "PolarisIC"), a deep sensing and low-light imaging chip design company, announced the completion of a Pre-A round of financing of nearly 100 million yuan, which was jointly invested by Planck Venture Capital,Nanshan SEI Investment,Dami Ventures,InnoMed Capital and Shenzhen Junke Danmu Venture Capital Partnership.The fund raised is mainly used to accelerate the speed of mass production and landing of early products, as well as the development of advanced technologies such as 3D stacking technology and back-illuminated SPAD.

Founded in 2021, PolarisIC is an emerging perception chip design company in China. With its completely independent SPAD IP and senior chip integration team, PolarisIC has built two major business directions of depth perception and low-light imaging.

Frost & Sullivan, a research Institu te, predicts that the global image sensor market will reach 267 billion US dollars in 2024, while Yole Development, another research Institute, predicts that the 3D sensing sensor market will reach 15 billion US dollars by 2025. As a new generation of single-photon sensing device, SPAD is the core device of new low-light image sensor and 3D sensing sensor, which is widely used in laser radar, 3D modeling, proximity sensing, low-light imaging, HDR imaging and other fields. At present, the annual usage of SPAD has exceeded one billion, and it is recognized as one of the most competitive solutions for low-cost vehicle laser radar. It has broad prospects for development.

Wang Lin, CEO of PolarisIC, said that SPAD investigate involves many physical and engineering problems, such as material characteristics, avalanche mechanism and process development. It has extremely high technical barriers, and requires constant trial and error, exploration and experience. Only with rich semiconductor process experience and excellent process innovation ability can it be commercialized.

PolarisIC is one of the few companies that have made breakthroughs in SPAD technology in China. In September this year, it successfully developed a high-performance SPAD with completely independent intellectual property rights, and reached the world's leading level in time resolution, consistency and other core indicators.

With the support of high-performance SPAD, PolarisIC has formed two major product lines of dToF (Direct Time of Flight Ranging) and PCI (Photon Counting Imaging), and has laid out products around the application matrix of automotive electronics and consumer electronics, supplemented by security monitoring, smart home and smart industry.

As for the product direction, Wang Lin said that in terms of dToF technology, the integration of detection, algorithm, control and other modules based on SPAD is recognized by the industry as a solution that can meet the performance, cost and reliability at the same time, and is the development direction of vehicle lidar and consumer electronics 3D perception.

PCI technology based on SPAD is one of the emerging technologies in the field of image sensors. PCI uses photon counting to improve the optical signal quantization ability of image sensors to the level of single photon, and can achieve a high degree of functional integration. Compared with the current CMOS image sensors, PCI technology has several times or even ten times improvement in sensitivity, dynamic range, frame rate and other core parameters. It has high application value in automotive night vision, security night vision and other fields.

Wang Lin said that sensitive signal detection and highly on-chip integration are the best ways to improve the performance and efficiency of dToF and PCI. Based on the team's superior experience in single-photon detection, high-speed digital integration and algorithms, PolarisIC creates highly integrated depth perception and low-light-level imaging products to improve product performance and efficiency.

PolarisIC has not only realized the research and development of key technologies, but also completed the development and finalization of a number of products in more than a year. At present, PolarisIC has launched one product in the direction of dToF and PCI, and has started to introduce or deliver the first batch of products to the head customers in many sub-areas such as sweeper, industrial sensing, AGV and so on, and will officially start mass production and delivery in the first quarter of 2023. By the second quarter of 2023, a number of cost-effective single-point dToF chips and modules, 8 X 8 small-area dToF chips will be launched, and the landing market will be extended to mobile phones, laptops, projectors and other fields.

Talking about the plan for the coming year, Wang Lin said that PolarisIC will focus on three aspects in 2023, one is to accelerate the mass production delivery and landing of products on the client side, forming a business closed-loop; Second, continue to develop core technologies such as SPAD, and continue to focus on advanced IC integration technologies such as 3D stacking technology and back-illuminated technology, so as to have a better ability to develop products more in line with customer needs; The three is to promote the development of large array dToF and PCI new products and improve the product line layout.

Investor view:
Zhang Ruiqi, director of Shenzhen Junke Danmu Venture Capital Partnership, said, With the further evolution of human society towards intelligence, we are optimistic that dToF technology based on SPAD will have broad application prospects in many fields such as robots, mobile phones and automobiles. The PolarisIC team has the full stack of SPAD sensors and large-scale digital IC investigate capabilities. Since its establishment, the company has launched products and solutions efficiently, gained the recognition of the head customers, and the team has also grown rapidly. We are very happy to complete this round of financing with other institutions, and look forward to the continuous breakthrough of PolarisIC, bringing more amazing products to our partners and creating a better future.

Feng Liujun, partner of Dami Ventures, said: The extremely high technical barriers and process difficulties of SPAD have become the development bottleneck of domestic 3D perception chip manufacturers, limiting product performance and application. At present, the application market is mainly monopolized by foreign enterprises such as ST and AMS, and PolarisIC is one of the few domestic companies that have mastered the core technology of SPAD. CEO Wang Lin, one of the inventors of SPAD technology, has more than 10 years of experience in SPAD investigate and mass production. His core team members have complementary advantages and strong execution. The company has successfully developed a number of highly competitive products in a short period of time, and its efficiency is far higher than that of its peers. Dami Ventures is very optimistic about the development potential of PolarisIC, and will use its own industrial ecological resources to help PolarisIC grow rapidly.

Wen | Zhang Yichi
Editor | Su Jianxun