Long-Range Synthetic Aperture Lidar for 2-D Spatial Resolution Higher than Optical Diffraction Limit and 3-D Mapping
Ground resolution is a critical parameter of an airborne surveillance system, whether it is a ground radar or an optical camera. The synthetic aperture (SA) method has proven extremely successful in Radio Frequency (RF) radars to achieve spatial resolution significantly higher than that of the diffraction limit of the physical aperture of the imaging system, yet realization of the same concept in an optical camera has been limited to the laboratory setting at the best. No practically feasible optical long-range SA imaging system has been designed and reported. We propose a novel and practical Long-Range Synthetic Aperture LIDAR (SA-LIDAR) for optical imaging with resolution 5x higher than the physical aperture diffraction limit. Just like any active sensors, the long-range SA-LIDAR needs a high sensitivity photo-detector, and hence we also propose our Photon Counting Integrated Circuit (PCIC) InGaAs Short-Wave Infrared (SWIR) Camera. During Phase I, we will numerically and experimentally prove the fundamental concepts of the SA-LIDAR and the PCIC detector. In Phase II, we will implement this SA-LIDAR technology with our PCIC focal plane array technology to deliver high-resolution high-sensitivity SA-LIDAR system for aerial surveillance applications, will and demonstrate enhanced ground resolution 5x beyond the optical diffraction limit.
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