Laser ranging using coherent pulse compression with frequency shifting loops
We report on the use of the acousto-optic frequency combs generated by frequency shifting loops as compact and versatile optical waveforms generators for pulse compression systems in the optical coherent domain. The high degree of tunability and mutual coherence of these sources permits an efficient use of the available detection bandwidth, and represent simple alternatives to broadband lasers that do not require fast electronics. The full, complex optical field is retrieved using heterodyne measurements in bandwidths as high as 20 GHz. Compression ratios up to 150 at 80-MHz repetition rate, with autocorrelation peak-to-sidelobe ratios in excess of 28 dB, are demonstrated. In a proof-of-concept ranging experiment, we obtain resolutions of 4 mm in free space at meter scales, limited by detection bandwidth. Systems based on frequency shifting loops thus enable compact implementations of the pulse compression concept in the optical coherent domain, for its use in general optical metrology systems.