Photonics Research, 2020, 8(12): 12001964, Published Online: Nov. 2, 2020

Long-distance ranging with high precision using a soliton microcomb

Author Affiliations

1State Key Laboratory of Precision Measuring Technology & Instruments, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China

2State Key Laboratory of Transient Optics and Photonics, Xi’an Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi’an 710119, China

3University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

4Department of Physics and Materials Science, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China




Laser-based light detection and ranging (lidar) plays a significant role in both scientific and industrial areas. However, it is difficult for existing lidars to achieve high speed, high precision, and long distance simultaneously. Here, we demonstrate a high-performance lidar based on a chip-scaled soliton microcomb (SMC) that can realize all three specialties simultaneously. Aided by the excellent properties of ultrahigh repetition rate and the smooth envelope of the SMC, traditional optical frequency comb (OFC)-based dispersive interferometry is heavily improved and the measuring dead zone induced by the mismatch between the repetition rate of the OFC and resolution of the optical spectrum analyzer is totally eliminated. Combined with an auxiliary dual-frequency phase-modulated laser range finder, the none-dead-zone measurable range ambiguity is extended up to 1500 m. The proposed SMC lidar is experimentally implemented in both indoor and outdoor environment. In the outdoor baseline field, real-time, high-speed (up to 35 kHz) measurement of a long distance of 1179 m is achieved with a minimum Allan deviation of 5.6 μm at an average time of 0.2 ms (27 nm at an average time of 1.8 s after high-pass filtering). The present SMC lidar approaches a compact, fast, high-precision, and none-dead zone long-distance ranging system, aimed at emerging applications of frontier basic scientific research and advances in industrial manufacturing.
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