Abstract

We introduce a new approach to coherent lidar range-Doppler sensing by utilizing random-noise illuminating waveforms and a quantum-optical, parallel sensor based on spatial–spectral holography (SSH) in a cryogenically cooled inhomogeneously broadened absorber (IBA) crystal. Interference between a reference signal and the lidar return in the spectrally selective absorption band of the IBA is used to sense the lidar returns and perform the front-end range-correlation signal processing. Modulating the reference by an array of Doppler compensating frequency shifts enables multichannel Doppler filtering. This SSH sensor performs much of the postdetection signal processing, increases the lidar system sensitivity through range-correlation gain before detection, and is capable of not only Doppler processing but also parallel multibeam reception using the high-spatial resolution of the IBA crystals. This approach permits the use of ultrawideband, high-power, random-noise, cw lasers as ranging waveforms in lidar systems instead of highly stabilized, injection-seeded, and amplified pulsed or modulated laser sources as required by most conventional coherent lidar systems. The capabilities of the IBA media for many tens of gigahertz bandwidth and resolution in the 30300  kHz regime, while using either a pseudo-noise-coded waveform or just a high-power, noisy laser with a broad linewidth (e.g., a truly random noise lidar) may enable a new generation of improved lidar sensors and processors. Preliminary experimental demonstrations of lidar ranging and simulation on range-Doppler processing are presented.

© 2006 Optical Society of America

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