Metalenz ships millions of its tiny cameras and powers up with $30M B round

tech crunch logo 1 Metalenz ships millions of its tiny cameras and powers up with $30M B round 10/12/22 | Devin Coldewey

PRESS RELEASE: Metalenz Raises $30 Million Series B Led by Neotribe Ventures to Address Fast Growing Demand for its Breakthrough Metasurface Optics.

Metalenz Series B Announcement

Metalenz Raises $30 Million Series B Led by Neotribe Ventures to Address Fast Growing Demand for its Breakthrough Metasurface Optics.

October 12, 2022, Boston, MA – Metalenz, the market leader for metasurface optics for high-performance 3D sensing solutions, today announced the closing of a $30M Series B, led by Neotribe Ventures. The funding will be used to meet the growing demand for the company’s existing 3D Sensor metasurface optics while simultaneously accelerating the market introduction of its revolutionary new polarization sensing solution, PolarEyes. The round also saw participation from Foothill Ventures, M Ventures, Intel Capital, Osage University Partners, TDK Ventures, 3M Ventures, Global Brain, SG Innovate, Hegemon Capital, and Braemar Energy Ventures.

“When we launched our first products as the key enabler for simpler, next generation 3D ToF products earlier this year, we proved that the performance of our metasurface optics is unparalleled in the 3D sensing market, and that our new technology can reach end-users at a massive scale,” said Metalenz co-founder and CEO Rob Devlin. “Since then, demand has dramatically increased, and the oversubscribed round is a testament to how our metasurface optics can completely transform the way people and machines interact with and understand the world around them. Going forward we are particularly excited to benefit from the deep knowledge and vast network of our lead investor in the Series B, Neotribe Ventures.”

“At Neotribe we are focused on investing in companies that are solving really hard technical problems that disrupt non-traditional industry sectors,” said Kittu Kolluri, Founder and Managing Director of Neotribe Ventures. “Metalenz represents the perfect blend of a disruptive deep tech solution being applied to a large and innovation-starved market, optics. We look forward to supporting Rob and his team as they scale the company and product roadmap to address this multi-billion-dollar opportunity.”

 

About Metalenz

Founded in 2016 and the first to commercialize meta-optics, Metalenz is enabling the next generation of 3D sensing in consumer electronics, automotive and industrial robotics markets. Built on research from the Capasso Lab at Harvard University, with exclusive worldwide license to foundational IP relating to metasurfaces, Metalenz has 20+ patents on innovations that simplify and improve optical devices. Unlike traditional optics, the company’s metasurface technology provides complex, multifunctional optical performance in a single semiconductor layer, relocating large-scale production of optics to semiconductor foundries—printing lenses like computer chips. Metalenz launched out of stealth in 2021 with funding from leading investors including 3M Ventures, Applied Ventures LLC, Intel Capital, M Ventures, TDK Ventures, and Foothill Ventures. Now in market, Metalenz metasurface optics will be in millions of consumer devices this year.

To learn more about how Metalenz is revolutionizing optical sensing in consumer electronics and beyond, contact sales@metalenz.com

About Neotribe Ventures 

Neotribe Ventures focuses on strategic investments in early to growth-stage companies developing breakthrough technologies that stretch the imagination. Founded in 2017, the firm manages nearly $450 million in assets across three funds and has invested in a diverse set of companies including computational biology, enterprise security and infrastructure, robotics and AI, blockchain technologies, cleantech, and more. Just as tribes represent small, protective, and caring groups, Neotribe believes that startups with innovative and aspirational teams thrive if provided the security and backing to be unafraid in the pursuit of new ideas, excellence, and success. 

To learn more about how Neotribe is partnering with entrepreneurs in the U.S., Europe, Israel, India, and Australia in their quest to solve complex and deeply impactful problems to create lasting change, visit www.neotribe.vc

 

Press Contact

Carly Glovinski

Marketing Manager, Metalenz

Carly.glovinski@metalenz.com

Metalenz Receives Platinum 2022 Laser Focus World Innovator Award for Its Polarization Sensing Technology with Meta-Optics.

lfw2022 innovator awards platinum logo

PolarEyes™ Receives Platinum Level Innovation Award

Boston, MA, August 18 – Metalenz, the first company to commercialize metasurface optics, announced today that its polarization sensing technology, “PolarEyes™”was recognized with the highest honor by the 2022 Laser Focus World Innovators Awards. An esteemed and experienced panel of judges from the optics and photonics community recognized Metalenz as a Platinum honoree.

“On behalf of the Laser Focus World Innovators Awards, I would like to congratulate Metalenz on their Platinum level honoree status,” said Laser Focus Word Editor-in-Chief Peter Fretty. “This competitive program allows Laser Focus World to celebrate and recognize the most innovative products impacting the photonics community this year.”

PolarEyes is the next generation of 3D sensing. Using a single metasurface optic paired with an image sensor, PolarEyes works to distinguish objects by way of polarized light, providing much more detailed information about a scene, including increased shape contrast and molecular makeup of objects. Shrinking a full-stokes polarization sensor by over 5000x, the module unlocks a host of sensing capabilities never-before-available at a mobile form factor-from more secure facial recognition in smartphones and consumer electronics, to new healthcare and automotive applications.

“By interpreting polarization information in light with a single optic, PolarEyes can provide a whole new information set to mass applications. In the era of AI and machine vision, these systems make increasingly more decisions that impact our lives. By providing a new, more complete information set to these systems, algorithms can be more efficient and their decisions more accurate.” Said Metalenz co-founder and CEO Rob Devlin. “Starting from a fundamental innovation by Dr. Noah Rubin while he was in Federico Capasso’s group, Metalenz is now poised to deliver this technology to real world modules with PolarEyes.”

See all Laser Focus World 2022 Innovator Awardees here

About Laser Focus World

Published since 1965, Laser Focus World has become the most trusted global resource for engineers, researchers, scientists, and technical professionals by providing comprehensive coverage of photonics technologies, applications, and markets. Laser Focus World reports on and analyzes the latest developments and significant trends in both the technology and business of photonics worldwide — and offers greater technical depth than any other publication in the field. 

About Metalenz

Metalenz, founded in 2016, is the first company to commercialize meta-optics. With exclusive worldwide license to the portfolio of foundational intellectual property relating to metasurfaces developed in the Capasso Lab at Harvard University, Metalenz has more than 20 patents on innovations that simplify and improve optical devices across multiple markets. The company’s meta-surface technology provides complex, multifunctional optical performance in a single semiconductor layer, relocating large-scale production of optics to semiconductor foundries. Metalenz launched out of stealth in 2021 with funding from leading investors including 3M Ventures, Applied Ventures LLC, Intel Capital, M Ventures, TDK Ventures, and Foothill Ventures. Now in market, Metalenz optics will be in millions of consumer devices this year.  

Media Contact

Carly Glovinski

Metalenz

603-969-0995

carly.glovinski@metalenz.com

Metalenz Expands Leadership Team in Response to Growing Demand for Its Breakthrough Metasurface Optics

Two new appointees will accelerate the launch of next generation metasurface optics for advanced sensing applications.

Boston, MA – July 20, 2022Metalenz, the first company to commercialize meta-optics, today announces the appointment of Lars Johnsson Vice President of Product, Marketing and Business Development and Hao Zhou as Head of Sales in Asia.

“Having launched our breakthrough meta-optics solution as a key enabler of ST Microelectronics’ next generation 3D ToF products earlier this year, we’ve proven we can reach end-users at a massive scale, and demand has only increased,” said Metalenz co-founder and CEO Rob Devlin. “Now is the time to add the skill and expertise of Lars and Hao to promote our technology in different regions as we launch a direct line of Metalenz near infrared imaging and sensing products.”

Lars will lead all aspects of Metalenz’s product strategy and revenue generation, drawing on over 20 years of repeated success bringing new and disruptive products to market, creating ecosystems for innovative solutions, and growing market share, revenue, and profit ahead of the competition. Prior to Metalenz, Lars was VP of Mobile Marketing at Skyworks Solutions, Sr. Director of Product at TDK, and VP of Marketing and Business Development at Cavendish Kinetics and Beceem Communications.

As Head of Sales in Asia, Hao will use his rich insights and connections in consumer electronics to drive consumer engagement and revenue generation in the Greater China Region. He brings decades of experience in the opto-electronic industry selling advanced optical components, modules, and systems. Prior to joining Metalenz, Hao founded Qtech as General Manager, where he led the effort in pushing TSV technology-based wafer level packaging into mass production and developed one of world’s first cellphone camera modules.

LarsandHao3

About Metalenz

Metalenz, founded in 2016, is the first company to commercialize meta-optics. With exclusive worldwide license to the portfolio of foundational intellectual property relating to metasurfaces developed in the Capasso Lab at Harvard University, Metalenz has more than 20 patents on innovations that simplify and improve optical devices across multiple markets. The company’s metasurface technology provides complex, multifunctional optical performance in a single semiconductor layer, relocating large-scale production of optics to semiconductor foundries—printing lenses like computer chips. Metalenz launched out of stealth in 2021 with funding from leading investors including 3M Ventures, Applied Ventures LLC, Intel Capital, M Ventures, TDK Ventures, and Foothill Ventures. Now in market, Metalenz metasurface optics will be in millions of consumer devices this year. To partner with Metalenz and learn more about how they’re revolutionizing optical sensing in consumer electronics and beyond, contact sales@metalenz.com

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Press Contact

Carly Glovinski

Marketing Manager

carly.glovinski@metalenz.com

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The Future Of Metasurface Optics — A Q&A With Metalenz CEO Robert Devlin

By: Abby Proch, Editor

July 1, 2022

The ask from customers is usually this: Make it smaller, faster, lighter, and cheaper.

It’s true of most industries, and it’s especially true with photonics and optics. As our explorations delve deeper into space and shrink so small as to fit in places the eye can hardly see, so the technologies must also evolve.

Recently, much ado has been made about metasurface lenses. They’re incredibly compact and are increasingly producing high-quality images. What’s more, they can be made alongside semiconductors on-site in the very same foundries.

That’s what Metalenz has hooked onto. They’ve established a partnership with STMicroelectronics to streamline their supply chain and, for the first time, bring metasurface optics into consumer products on a large scale .

I recently chatted with Metalenz CEO Robert Devlin, who cofounded the company alongside Harvard University Professor of Applied Physics Federico Capasso, about the company’s beginnings, how its business partnership evolved, the challenges of integrating into consumer products, and what he believes is the future of metasurface optics. 

Metasurfaces Come to the Market

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June 27, 2022, Stewart Wills, Optica (Formerly OSA)

In the past decade, academic research labs have published increasingly dazzling results demonstrating the rich potential of metasurfaces. These planar materials, decorated with collections of nanostructures and nanopatterns, can shape and direct light in intricately engineered ways, doing the heavy lifting of multiple optical components in a single 2D surface.

In principle, these accomplished engineered surfaces could radically reduce system size and complexity in a range of applications. But impressive as they’ve been in the lab, the use of metasurfaces in actual commercial devices has always seemed just out of reach—something that would happen at some point in the future, perhaps, but not quite today.

Now Metalenz, an early-stage company spun out of the research group of Optica Fellow Federico Capasso at Harvard University six years ago—says it has crossed that threshold. 

World’s First Metasurface for Consumer Electronics Makes Commercial Debut

STchipwithSEM

A recently announced partnership between Metalenz and STMicroelectronics marks optical revolutions for the 3D sensor market.

June 13, 2022 Peter Fretty, Editor, Laser Focus World

There is growing excitement around the metalens—and for good reason. Metasurfaces provide manufacturers with the ability to replace the three or four lenses (often from multiple suppliers) commonly used in complex optical systems with one single flat lens. Consider, for instance, the 3D sensing systems popular in many consumer devices such as Face ID used to open an iPhone. 

“The beautiful part about metasurfaces is the ability to produce it using existing semiconductor processes,” says Metalenz (Boston, MA) CEO and co-founder Robert Devlin. “It’s moving optics into the same semiconductor foundries making the electronics, resulting in a reduction in complexity.”

Often, reducing the complexity of an optical system means compromising performance. However, the reverse has been true with the first commercial deployment for the Harvard-born startup. “We have seen improvement in overall performance, including how much light is going where it’s needed at the image sensor,” says Devlin. “And since we are moving optics into the semiconductor fab, it also serves as a means of supply chain consolidation.”

Metalenz and STMicroelectronics Deliver World’s First Optical Metasurface Technology for Consumer Electronics Devices.

Billboard HelloWorld

Metalenz metasurfaces are now on the market through its partnership with STMicroelectronics, marking the introduction of this revolutionary optical technology in real-world devices

Boston, MA and Geneva, Switzerland – June 9, 2022Metalenz, the first company to commercialize meta-optics, and STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), a global semiconductor leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications, today announce that ST’s currently released VL53L8 direct Time-of-Flight (dToF) sensor is the highly anticipated market debut of the meta-optics devices developed through their partnership, which was disclosed in June 2021.

Metalenz’s Harvard-born, meta-optics technology can replace existing complex and multi-element lenses and provide additional functionality with a single meta-optic embedded in time-of-flight (ToF) modules from ST, the leading company in supplying 3D sensing modules. The introduction of Metalenz technology in these modules brings performance, power, size, and cost advantages to a multitude of consumer, automotive, and industrial applications. This marks the first time metasurface technology is commercially available and being used in consumer devices.

Unlike traditional molded and curved lenses, Metalenz’s novel optics are completely planar. Planar metasurface optics are now being manufactured on silicon wafers alongside electronics in ST’s semiconductor front-end fabs for the first time. The meta-optics collect more light, provide multiple functions in a single layer, and enable new forms of sensing in smartphones and other devices, while taking up less space. Metalenz’s flat-lens technology replaces certain existing optics in ST’s FlightSense™ ToF modules, which serve applications such as smartphones, drones, robots, and vehicles. In these, ST has sold more than 1.7 billion units to date.

“More than a decade of foundational research has brought us to this point. Market deployment of our meta-optics makes this the first metasurface technology to become commercially available,” said Rob Devlin, co-founder and CEO of Metalenz. “ST’s technology, manufacturing expertise, and global reach allow us to impact millions of consumers. We have multiple wins that mark the first application of our platform technology and we are now designing entire systems around its unique functionality. Our meta-optics enable exciting new markets and new sensing capabilities in mobile form factors and at a competitive price.”

MetalenzSTMPoster

ST is a leader and leading innovator in ToF sensing technology that uses the speed of light to accurately calculate proximity. The sensor precisely measures the time a photon, traveling at 299,792,458 meters/sec, takes to travel to and reflect back from a surface. From its first ToF sensor, ST and its technology have helped revolutionize autofocus in smartphone cameras and, with presence detection and gesture recognition, improve security and power efficiency in mobile and computing applications.

Perfectly complementing ST’s advanced manufacturing capabilities and ToF technology, the introduction of products embedding Metalenz’s game-changing metasurface optics now enables significant power efficiency, optical performance, and module-size optimization that all bring benefit across consumer, industrial, and automotive markets,” said Eric Aussedat, Executive Vice President and General Manager of ST’s Imaging Sub-Group. “Initially targeting applications using near-infrared wavelengths, especially for 3D sensing, the products we’re introducing with Metalenz are perfectly suited for applications like face authentication, camera assist, consumer LIDAR, and AR/VR, where depth mapping is needed.”

The partnership of Metalenz IP with ST Manufacturing Technology brings the incredible accuracy and precision of electronics chip industry to make very precise and repeatable meta-optics that unlock this completely new way to make lenses that combine very high quality and large-scale cost-effective manufacturing.

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About Metalenz

Metalenz, founded in 2016, is the first company to commercialize meta-optics. With exclusive worldwide license to the portfolio of foundational intellectual property relating to metasurfaces developed in the Capasso Lab at Harvard University, Metalenz has more than 20 patents on innovations that simplify and improve optical devices across multiple markets. The company’s meta-surface technology provides complex, multifunctional optical performance in a single semiconductor layer, relocating large-scale production of optics to semiconductor foundries—printing lenses like computer chips. Metalenz launched out of stealth in 2021 with funding from leading investors including 3M Ventures, Applied Ventures LLC, Intel Capital, M Ventures, TDK Ventures, and Foothill Ventures. Now in market, Metalenz optics will be in millions of consumer devices this year. To partner with Metalenz and learn more about how they’re revolutionizing optical sensing in consumer electronics and beyond, visit: metalenz.com.

About STMicroelectronics
At ST, we are 48,000 creators and makers of semiconductor technologies mastering the semiconductor supply chain with state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. An integrated device manufacturer, we work with more than 200,000 customers and thousands of partners to design and build products, solutions, and ecosystems that address their challenges and opportunities, and the need to support a more sustainable world. Our technologies enable smarter mobility, more efficient power and energy management, and the wide-scale deployment of the Internet of Things and connectivity. ST is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2027. Further information can be found at www.st.com.

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Press Contacts

Metalenz
Carly Glovinski
Marketing Manager
carly.glovinski@metalenz.com

STMicroelectronics
Michael Markowitz
Director Technical Media Relations
Tel: +1 781 591 0354
michael.markowitz@st.com

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Get in Touch

World’s First Printable Optical Metasurface For Vision, 3D Sensing, LIDAR Now Shipping In Consumer Products

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June 8, 2022 John Koetsier Senior Contributor, Forbes

Metalenz announced today that chip giant ST Micro’s latest product incorporates its metasurface technology that puts flat lenses in consumer products like smartphones, laptops, smart home devices, even cars.

“The meta-optics collect more light, provide multiple functions in a single layer, and enable new forms of sensing in smartphones and other devices, while taking up less space,” the company said in a statement. “Metalenz’s flat-lens technology replaces certain existing optics in ST’s FlightSense ToF modules, which serve applications such as smartphones, drones, robots, and vehicles. In these, ST has sold more than 1.7 billion units to date.”

Crucially, Metalenz’ tech is printed like computer chips in silicon wafers, which means mass production at very low cost.

“We use the exact same fabs that make electronics,” Metalenz CEO Rob Devlin told me in a phone conversation. “That’s why we can go from 0 to 100s of millions of devices on-market in very small time. On a single wafer we can print 5,000 to 10,000 lenses, so we can produce tens of thousands of wafers in a week or less, and can get to a million in single day.”

Cybernews Interview with Co-Founder and CEO Rob Devlin

from Cybernews.com

Since the pandemic caused a digital transformation for many companies and locked everyone at home, the need for technology suitable to use from home has only increased. One type of technology that can help make life easier is meta-optics.

According to Rob Devlin, “We have the ability to bring equipment that has previously lived in scientific or medical laboratories into the palm of every person’s hand. Proliferating these complicated optical modules allows us to eventually change everything from easier home health to improving the security of our personal devices.”

To learn more about meta-optics, what they are, and how they work, Cybernews invited Rob Devlin, the CEO of Metalenz – a company that manufactures meta-optics into high volume applications.

Read the full interview

Metalenz Launches Gemini to Make 3D Sensing Easier with Selectable Illuminator Optics

from Benzinga.com

Boston, MA, Jan. 24, 2022Metalenz Inc., the pioneer in metasurface design and commercialization, today unveiled the Gemini™ product family, switchable illumination optics based on foundational polarization IP. With a single meta-optic, the Gemini products offer simple, dynamic illumination to address more applications through electronically toggling of optimized illumination patterns — something that is not possible with current refractive lenses and diffractive element optical stacks.

Metalenz has also announced a recent collaboration with Trumpf to demonstrate switchable illumination modules with Metalenz’s multifunctional-optic and Trumpf’s polarization addressable VCSELs.

Read the full article

The Nanotechnology Revolution Is Here—We Just Haven’t Noticed Yet

from The Wall Street Journal

Before there was a “metaverse,” before there were crypto millionaires, before nearly every kid in America wanted to be an influencer, the most-hyped thing in tech was “nanotechnology.” “Nano-,” for those who could use a refresher, means “one billionth,” and nanotechnology generally refers to materials manipulated at an atomic or molecular scale.

Read the full story

Smartphone Cameras Might Soon Capture Polarization Data

from Wired.com

Imagine a camera that’s mounted on your car being able to identify black ice on the road, giving you a heads-up before you drive over it. Or a cell phone camera that can tell whether a lesion on your skin is possibly cancerous. Or the ability for Face ID to work even when you have a face mask on. These are all possibilities Metalenz is touting with its new PolarEyes polarization technology. 

Last year, the company unveiled a flat-lens system called optical metasurfaces for mobile devices that took up less space while purportedly producing similar- if not better-quality images than a traditional smartphone camera. Instead of using multiple lens elements stacked on top of each other—the design used in most phone cameras, which necessitates a bulky “camera bump”—Metalenz’s solution relies on a single lens outfitted with nanostructures that bend light rays and deliver them to the camera’s sensor, producing an image with levels of brightness and clarity on par with photos captured by traditional systems. Rob Devlin, CEO of Metalenz, says we’ll see this tech in a product in the second quarter of 2022.

However, consider Metalenz’s latest announcement a second-generation version that might crop up inside devices in 2023. It’s built on the same technology, but the nanostructures can now maintain polarization information in light. Normal cameras, like the ones in our phones, don’t capture this data but simply focus on light intensity and color. But with an additional stream of data, our phones might soon learn some new tricks. 

Read the full article

Metalenz PolarEyes upgrades digital sensing with polarized light

from Techcrunch

Tech sees differently, and can fuse multiple types of data we can’t even perceive: lidar, IR, ultrasonic and so on. Metalenz, maker of highly compact “2D” cameras for advanced sensing, hopes to bring polarized light into the mix for security and safety with its PolarEyes tech.

Polarization isn’t a quality of light that’s often paid much attention. It has to do with the orientation of the photon’s movement as it waves its way through the air, and generally you can get the info you need from light without checking its polarization. But that doesn’t mean it’s useless.

“Polarization generally gets thrown out, but it really can tell you something about what the objects you’re looking at are made out of. And it can find contrast that normal cameras can’t see,” said Metalenz co-founder and CEO Rob Devlin. “In healthcare, it’s been used historically to tell whether a cell is cancerous or not — the color and intensity don’t change in the visible light, but looking at polarization it works.”

Read the full article

PRESS RELEASE: Metalenz partners with STMicroelectronics to develop manufacturing processes

Metalenz Inc. partners with global semiconductor leader STMicroelectronics to develop manufacturing processes for Metalenz’s meta-optics technology for next-generation smartphones, consumer devices, healthcare, and automotive applications.

The technology developed by Metalenz is a perfect complement to ST’s advanced capabilities. Combining semiconductor manufacturing and optics, ST will use advanced lithographic masks to build tunable diffractive-wavefront layers on a meta-surface in a semiconductor wafer fab. Like silicon ICs, the flat meta-surface lenses are processed in a semiconductor cleanroom using the same manufacturing technology. The lenses will feature nanostructures one-thousandth the width of a human hair. These nanostructures appropriately bend light rays to realize in a single layer the same functionality as a complex multi-element refractive lens system.

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