Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR)
The market demand for LiDAR products has taken a steep increase as public-facing autonomous vehicles have started to be proven on the road. Whilst the autonomous vehicle market has prime focus, other applications including wind speed monitoring, range finding, and 3D scanning are more mature market areas utilizing similar, but differentiated LiDAR technologies.
Fiber-based LiDAR systems currently offer the highest optical power levels for C-band “eye-safe” wavelengths around 1550nm. Diode lasers are unable to match the power level and beam quality of a fiber laser solution in the C-band. Critically, the power level of the LiDAR light source correlates to the maximum vehicle speed for which the LiDAR system can give timely feedback. High energy pulses are able to travel further than low energy pulses before environmental scattering degrades the signal into the noise level. This allows fiber-based LiDAR systems to detect and react to events far ahead of the vehicle. Automotive applications also require high-temperature performance, capable of withstanding 125oC, which is within the performance range of various fiber coatings. Fibercore’s TC1500Y(11/125)HD erbium ytterbium doped fiber, matched passive DC1500(11/125)0.12HD fiber and GainBlocks optical engines are ideal for these needs.
Wind Speed Monitoring
LiDAR can be used to measure wind speeds at suitable stand-off distances to enable wind turbine efficiency tuning and airport safety enhancement through detection of wind sheer, wake turbulence, and gusts. Such LiDAR systems require high power, polarization maintaining, large mode area double or triple clad erbium ytterbium doped fibers.
Defense and civilian needs for range finding vary in optical power levels and the operational environments. These applications can range from ultra-high spatial accuracy length measurements of large structures, such as aircraft wings and civil engineering structures through to airborne platform targeting systems. For the lower power end, Fibercore’s IsoGain product range offers a broad selection of fibers whilst the TC range of erbium ytterbium doped fibers are suitable for the higher power ranges.
LiDAR is a powerful solution for scanning internal and external urban environments to aid construction planning and for scanning remote locations for metrological and environmental factors. The ability to mount the LiDAR systems onto mobile platforms including vehicles, boats, helicopters, aircraft, and drones enables up-to-date 3D models of an area to be constructed rapidly, ideal for low cost, large-area surveys, and emergency response situations such as floods and earthquakes.