Winner, Name that Ware October 2020

The Ware for October 2020 is a VL53L1 time of flight distance sensor. It incorporates both a vertically-firing laser (small, square die on the left hand side) and the associated sensing circuitry to measure the time it takes for light to travel over short distances, into a package that’s smaller than a pinky nail — it’s the sort of thing that would have sounded like science fiction a decade ago. It’s neat to see how they embed two photodiodes onto a single silicon chip, and then use the molding compound to partition the part into optically isolated Tx and Rx halves. Presumably the photodiode in the Tx part (which gets exposed to stray laser light) is used to measure the outgoing power, to help calibrate the Rx side.

I was playing around with it for an art project as a candidate for a proximity sensor, but unfortunately, it does not work well through any sort of light-diffusive barrier, which is why I was desoldering the part. Gratz to ninja bomb for guessing it, email me for your prize!

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