Lasers are an unnatural occurrence, rendered almost impossible in nature due to the laws of thermodynamics. Thus, the presence of laser radiation is always accompanied by an intent for that laser such as sensing, targeting, range finding etc. Detection of laser radiation is therefore important as it may be a precursor to impending action. Laser warning receivers have been around for decades and have been aligned with the type of laser threat. In the last few years new threats have appeared in the form of low-cost diode lasers with dangerously high power levels (several Watts for a few hundred US dollars) and an ever expanding range of wavelengths. Protecting against such threats requires its detection, analysis and classification. In this paper we will discuss the types of technologies that have been used to detect lasers and the properties they can discern. We then focus on the developments in the detection of coherence properties and its ability to detect weak continuous wave (CW) laser sources.
The availability of low cost but relatively high power laser pointers (hundreds of mW) has led to misuse with potentially dangerous consequences, such as dazzling aircraft which has raised concerns about aircraft safety. A low cost laser detection system based on coherence detection has been developed and is able to detect weak, continuous laser sources even against bright background light. In this paper, we introduce the use of a cone mirror to extend the horizontal field of view of the detector (originally at 3°) to 360° to detect incoming beams from different directions. With the additional use of a camera in the system, we also determine the direction of the incoming laser beam. Finally, the sensitivity between the original system and the cone mirror system are compared: the new system showed promising results with a sensitivity below 100nW.
One of the very useful aspects of a laser is its well-defined beam, delivering high intensity to a defined location. Directing that beam and specifying the location is generally done with adjustable mirrors. Directing the beam in time varying manner most often requires galvanometer scanning mirrors which translate in one dimension. These mirrors, though now a mature technology, are in general speed limited due to their inertia and can be heavy, power hungry and expensive. There are then benefits to be gained from non-mechanical means of beam steering particularly in terms of speed and weight. This paper gives an overview of methods employed to implement beam steering and then concentrates on methods that do not rely on independent phase control. The use of a micromirror array for 3-dimensional beam control will be presented with the pros and cons that this entails.
Three-dimensional (3-D) laser beam steering of focal position has been demonstrated using a single optical device—a DMD micromirror array. Laser beam focus position is controlled using dynamically adjustable zone plates. These zone plates take the form of elliptical Fresnel zone plates or other variations such as binary Gabor zone plates. Active beam pointing and control can be realized without the need for a pair of galvanometer mirrors and a focusing lens. Focusing efficiencies into an off-axis diffraction order of a few percent are typically seen and continuity between neighboring orders increases the effective field of regard. Writing multiple zone plate patterns to the DMD enables multiple focused spots to be generated and controlled independently.
A low-cost method of detecting lasers based on detecting coherence properties of received light is presented. The method uses an unbalanced Mach–Zehnder interferometer with a modulating piezo-mounted mirror in one arm to discriminate against incoherent background light and identify the presence of laser radiation at the nW level against much brighter backgrounds. The wavelength of the coherent input can be determined by comparing the intensities of the modulation frequency harmonics.
A new, novel and unconventional encoding scheme called concurrent coding, has recently been demonstrated and shown to offer interesting features and benefits in comparison to conventional techniques, such as robustness against burst errors and improved efficiency of transmitted power. Free space optical communications can suffer particularly from issues of alignment which requires stable, fixed links to be established and beam wander which can interrupt communications. Concurrent coding has the potential to help ease these difficulties and enable mobile, flexible optical communications to be implemented through the use of a source encoding technique. This concept has been applied for the first time to optical communications where standard light emitting diodes (LEDs) have been used to transmit information encoded with concurrent coding. The technique successfully transmits and decodes data despite unpredictable interruptions to the transmission causing significant drop-outs to the detected signal. The technique also shows how it is possible to send a single block of data in isolation with no pre-synchronisation required between transmitter and receiver, and no specific synchronisation sequence appended to the transmission. Such systems are robust against interference -- intentional or otherwise -- as well as intermittent beam blockage.
A new approach to locating gas and vapor plumes is proposed that is entirely passive. By modulating the transmission waveband of a narrow-band filter, an intensity modulation is established that allows regions of an image to be identified as containing a specific gas with absorption characteristics aligned with the filter. A system built from readily available components was constructed to identify regions of NO2. Initial results show that this technique was able to distinguish an absorption cell containing NO2 gas in a test scene.
We describe a free space Quantum cryptography system which is designed to allow continuous unattended key exchanges for periods of several days, and over ranges of a few kilometres. The system uses a four laser faint pulse transmission system running at a pulse rate of 10MHz to generate the required four alternative polarization states. The receiver module similarly automatically selects a measurement basis and performs polarization measurements with four avalanche photodiodes. The controlling software can implement the full key exchange including sifting, error correction, and privacy amplification required to
generate a secure key.
The remote detection and identification of liquid chemical contamination is a difficult problem for which no satisfactory solution has yet been found. We have investigated a new technique, pulsed indirect photoacoustic spectroscopy (PIPAS), and made an assessment of its potential for operation at stand-off ranges of order 10m. The method involves optical excitation of the liquid surface with a pulsed laser operating in the 9-11μm region. Pulse lengths are of order 3μs, with energy ~300μJ and repetition rates ~200Hz. Rapid heating of the liquid by the laser pulse produces acoustic emission at the surface, and this is detected by a sensitive directional microphone to increase the signal-to-noise ratio and reduce background clutter. The acoustic pulse strength is related to the liquid's absorption coefficient at the laser wavelength; tuning allows spectroscopic investigation and a means of chemical identification. Maximum coverage rates have been examined, and further experiments have examined the specificity of the technique, allowing a preliminary assessment of false-alarm and missed-signal rates. The practical aspects of applying the technique in a field environment have been assessed.
When a laser plasma is produced on a target, various electromagnetic phenomena can occur. These can produce substantial currents and voltages in nearby structures. The effects depend on the target material and morphology, the pressure and species of the atmosphere, and the nature of the laser pulse.
The following mechanisms are known to make a major contribution to electromagnetic signals detected near laser plasmas:
(1) UV plume causing transient high conductivity in semiconductor targets, and ionisation in buffer gasses;
(2) Laser plasma generating multi-GHz microwaves due to the generation of plasma waves;
(3) Space charge and current charge travelling through vacuum due to differences in the electron and ion velocities;
(4) Generation of transient magnetic fields that induce anomalous currents in conductors at the target point, and secondary induced current in nearby conductors.
Many of which were first reported in the 1970s, and in this report we review their relative contributions and identify regimes where each dominate.
An adaptive optics system usually has three basic elements, a wavefront sensor, a deformable element, and a feedback scheme. Typically these components are a Shack-Hartmann sensor, a bimorph or segmented mirror, and a DSP solution for performing the necessary calculations. These components are expensive, and give rise to a complex optical and computational system. In this paper a novel implementation of an adaptive optics system will be discussed. The wavefront sensor is based on an IMP grating to measure the curvature of the incoming light. This sensor has been found to be robust to scintillation, so is applicable to horizontal propagation paths. An OKO technologies deformable mirror is used, and the feedback loop calculations run on a standard Pentium III computer using Windows 2000. Results from recent trials of the system correcting for errors over various horizontal propagation lengths will be shown. Additionally results using this system for laser beam propagation will also be discussed.