4 May 2010 A history of laser radar in the United States
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Abstract
This paper relates a short history of laser radar development in the United States. It starts in the 60's, shortly after the invention of the laser. Initially laser radars used various lasers, until CO2 became the popular choice for coherent laser radar and NdYag for laser range finders and designators. CO2 reigned as the coherent laser radar of choice from the early 70's until the 80's or 90's. Most CO2 laser radars were at a wavelength of 10.6 μm, although to avoid atmospheric CO2 absorption some CO2 laser radars used different isotopes of CO2 to avoid 10.6 μm operation. The exception to the early laser radar development being CO2 were laser designators, which can be considered a form of bi-static laser radar, and laser range finders. NdYag, at 1.064 μm wavelength, was the laser of choice for laser designators and range finders. Laser designators started in the late 60's. In the 80's to 90's solid state lasers came more into their own for laser radar application, including coherent solid state laser radars. The main development was the ability to eliminate heat from solid state material, thus allowing higher power operation. Laser diodes also became prominent, allowing a reliable and efficient method of pumping. Wind sensing, navigation, terrain following, 2D, and 3D imaging, and velocity detection are some of the other laser radar uses that have been pursued. CO2 based navigation laser radar was deployed, but with the advent of GPS has become less popular.
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Paul F. McManamon, Gary Kamerman, Milton Huffaker, "A history of laser radar in the United States", Proc. SPIE 7684, Laser Radar Technology and Applications XV, 76840T (4 May 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.862562; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.862562
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