1 June 2011 Highly sensitive lidar with a thumb-sized sensor-head built using an optical fiber preamplifier
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We developed a LIDAR system with a sensor head as small as 22 cc, in spite of the inclusion of a scanning mechanism. This LIDAR system not only has a small body, but is also highly sensitive. Our LIDAR system is based on time-of-flight measurements, and it incorporates an optical fiber. The main feature of our system is the utilization of optical amplifiers for both the transmitter and the receiver, and the optical amplifiers enabled us to exceed the detection limit of thermal noise. In conventional LIDAR systems the detection limit is determined by thermal noise, because the avalanche photo-diodes (APD) and trans-impedance amplifiers (TIA) that they use detect the received signals directly. In the case of our LIDAR system, received signal is amplified by an optical fiber amplifier in front of the photo diode and the TIA. Therefore, our LIDAR system can boost the signal level before the weak incoming signal is depleted by thermal noise. There are conditions under which the noise figure for the combination of an optical fiber amplifier and a photo diode is superior to the noise figure for an avalanche photo diode. We optimized the gain of the optical fiber amplifier and TIA in our LIDAR system such that it is capable of detecting a single photon. As a result, the detection limit of our LIDAR system is determined by shot noise. This small and highly sensitive measurement technology shows great potential for use in LIDAR with an optical preamplifier.
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Daisuke Inoue, Daisuke Inoue, Tadashi Ichikawa, Tadashi Ichikawa, Hiroyuki Matsubara, Hiroyuki Matsubara, Xueon Mao, Xueon Mao, Mitsutoshi Maeda, Mitsutoshi Maeda, Chie Nagashima, Chie Nagashima, Manabu Kagami, Manabu Kagami, } "Highly sensitive lidar with a thumb-sized sensor-head built using an optical fiber preamplifier", Proc. SPIE 8037, Laser Radar Technology and Applications XVI, 80370A (1 June 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.886478; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.886478

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