Internship | Optical Phased Array based Lidars

Do you like to work on new technology development in the field of optics and integrated photonics? Do you like cars and contribute to the next generations of autonomous vehicles? This is your internship!



Education type

university (wo)


Internship and graduation project

Hours a week

Fulltime – 40


Apply now


What will you be doing?

  • Background
Lidars have emerged in the last years as a key technology for the automotive industry, as part of a set of sensors enabling the development of autonomous vehicles. Currently, existing lidars are based on mechanical beam steering, resulting in bulky and relatively slow systems. These are not easy to be integrated on platforms with stringent aerodynamic and aesthetical requirements. Optical Phased Arrays (like their counterparts at microwave frequencies, used for radars and telecommunication systems) consist of arrays of radiating elements, which can be controlled electronically to create and steer narrow beams in desired directions. By adjusting the phase of the input signal of each array element, the beam can be steered without any mechanical moving part. Furthermore, it is also possible to shape the beam and/or to create multiple independent beams These features, together with the high level of integration achievable with the required technologies (Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits -MMIC – and Photonic Integrated Circuits – PIC), allow the development of very compact and reconfigurable lidar systems capable of addressing the limitations of the currently available products.
Another aspect to be taken into account is the extremely short electromagnetic wavelength used for this application (1550 nm). This poses quite some challenges to the design of the array. In fact, typical array lattices, with half wavelength inter-element spacings, are not feasible, due to the physical dimensions of the components forming the array. This sampling is necessary in periodic lattices to avoid the generation of the so called grating lobes, unwanted replicas of the main beam. Grating lobes are undistinguishable, simultaneous beams, generated by the radiating structure, which would not allow a precise and unambiguous identification of the targets/objects. To avoid this problem, it is necessary to resort to pseudo-random array lattices which allow the generation of single main beams, even with poorly sampled arrays (inter-element distance of a few wavelengths).
  • Project description
In this project, the student will learn the principles of lidars and optical phased arrays and perform an assessment of different system configurations (Frequency Modulated Carrier Wave, Phase Modulated Carrier Wave, arrays of frequency scanning antennas (e.g. gratings) or normal frequency independent (within a specified bandwidth) antennas), with respect to given system requirements. Once a preferred configuration will be identified, a preliminary design of the array will be performed and a study of the related technological challenges will be identified.

What do we require of you?

  • We expect from you a good background in Electromagnetic Theory, Physics, Photonics and Optics. 
  • Experience with electromagnetic modelling tools (e.g. ANSYS HFSS, COMSOL, LUMERICAL etc.) is welcome, but it can be built-up also during the internship. 
  • Progamming in MATLAB or Pytnon is required.

What can you expect of your work situation?

TNO is an independent research organisation whose expertise and research make an important contribution to the competitiveness of companies and organisations, to the economy and to the quality of society as a whole. Innovation with purpose is what TNO stands for. With 3000 people we develop knowledge not for its own sake but for practical application. To create new products that make life more pleasant and valuable and help companies innovate. To find creative answers to the questions posed by society. We work for a variety of customers: governments, companies, service providers and non-governmental organisations. Working together on new knowledge, better products and clear recommendations for policy and processes. In everything we do, impact is the key. Our product and process innovations and recommendations are only worth something if our customers can use them to boost their competitiveness. 

Due to the restrictions and social distancing measures required by the Corona virus crisis, it will not always be possible to have face-to-face meetings and work at the TNO premises. Nevertheless, you will be provided with a dedicated laptop and you will be granted access to the TNO network. This will allow you to store data, documents and presentations on a dedicated project folder and to make use of the modelling tools available at TNO. Furthermore, regular progress meetings will be organized and you will interact with your supervisor, TNO staff members and other fellow students.

You will acquire knowledge on lidars, optical phased arrays and photonic circuits.

What can TNO offer you?

You want to work on the precursor of your career; an internship gives you an opportunity to take a good look at your prospective future employer. TNO goes a step further. It’s not just looking that interests us; you and your knowledge are essential to our innovation. That’s why we attach a great deal of value to your personal and professional development. You will, of course, be properly supervised during your internship and be given the scope for you to get the best out of yourself. Naturally, we provide suitable internship compensation.

Has this vacancy sparked your interest?

Then please feel free to apply on this vacancy! For further questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

Due to Covid-19 and the consequent uncertainties and restrictions, students who are not residing in the Netherlands may currently not be able to start an internship or graduation project at TNO.

Contact: Giampiero Gerini
Phone number: +31 (0)88-86 64188

Note that applications via email and third party applications are not taken into consideration.


Apply now



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