Chirped amplitude modulation LiDAR

Improved system uses an unmodulated short-pulse laser source together with a chirp-modulated receiver


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Scientists at the Army Research Laboratory improved their LiDAR system with high-peak-power lasers instead of using continuous-wave lasers. The patented technology is available via license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

LiDAR is similar to a radar system with the exception that a much shorter wavelength of the electromagnetic spectrum is used, typically in the ultraviolet, visible, or near-infrared frequencies. Due to diffraction limits, the laser radiation is easier to collimate than microwave radiation given realistic aperture constraints. This gives a compact LiDAR the ability to image a target with a high spatial resolution.

ARL has demonstrated the capability of its previously patented chirped amplitude modulation (AM) LiDAR technique to produce high-resolution, range-resolved 3D+ imagery of targets in heavy clutter, under dense foliage canopy, and obscured by camouflage nets. These previously patented techniques use a modulated continuous wave (CW) laser as an illumination source and a photon detection receiver. For some applications, a high-peak-power illumination source is required to satisfy the design requirements, which is not easily achieved with a CW source. For those applications, it is advantageous to use a short-pulse laser due to its high-peak powers and commercial availability. However, since the duration of the laser pulse is extremely short, it is not feasible to chirp modulate the laser intensity as is required with the current LiDAR architecture. Therefore, a modification to the existing ranging technique is needed.

ARL researchers have developed a LiDAR system that consists of an unmodulated pulsed laser with a chirp modulated receiver for producing 3D+ imagery of targets in dense clutter. The system includes a laser source that emits an unmodulated short-pulse laser beam and a modulated gain receiver that accepts a reflected laser signal and transforms it into a displayable image.

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