13 May 2016 Novel, ultra-compact, high-performance, eye-safe laser rangefinder for demanding applications
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Abstract
Compact eye-safe laser rangefinders (LRFs) are a key technology for future sensors. In addition to reduced size, weight and power (SWaP), compact LRFs are increasingly being required to deliver a higher repetition rate, burst mode capability. Burst mode allows acquisition of telemetry data from fast moving targets or while sensing-on-the-move. We will describe a new, ultra-compact, long-range, eye-safe laser rangefinder that incorporates a novel transmitter that can deliver a burst capability. The transmitter is a diode-pumped, erbium:glass, passively Q-switched, solid-state laser which uses design and packaging techniques adopted from the telecom components sector. The key advantage of this approach is that the transmitter can be engineered to match the physical dimensions of the active laser components and the submillimetre sized laser spot. This makes the transmitter significantly smaller than existing designs, leading to big improvements in thermal management, and allowing higher repetition rates. In addition, the design approach leads to devices that have higher reliability, lower cost, and smaller form-factor, than previously possible. We present results from the laser rangefinder that incorporates the new transmitter. The LRF has dimensions (L x W x H) of 100 x 55 x 34 mm and achieves ranges of up to 15km from a single shot, and over a temperature range of -32°C to +60°C. Due to the transmitter’s superior thermal performance, the unit is capable of repetition rates of 1Hz continuous operation and short bursts of up to 4Hz. Short bursts of 10Hz have also been demonstrated from the transmitter in the laboratory.
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M. Silver, S. T. Lee, A. Borthwick, G. Morton, C. McNeill, D. McSporran, I. McRae, G. McKinlay, D. Jackson, W. Alexander, "Novel, ultra-compact, high-performance, eye-safe laser rangefinder for demanding applications", Proc. SPIE 9832, Laser Radar Technology and Applications XXI, 98320R (13 May 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2222986; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2222986
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