Abstract

The performance of a frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) semiconductor laser radar has been examined. Frequency modulation (linear chirp) has been studied experimentally in detail. To create a linear frequency sweep, we modified the modulating function according to the measured frequency response of the laser, using an arbitrary function generator. The measurements indicate the possibility of achieving a spectral width of the signal peak that is transform limited rather than limited by the frequency modulation response of the laser, which permits the use of a narrow detection bandwidth. The narrow width results in a relatively high signal-to-noise ratio for low output power and thus also in relatively long-range and high-range accuracy. We have performed measurements of a diffuse target to determine the performance of a test laser radar system. The maximum range, range accuracy, and speed accuracy for a semiconductor laser with an output power of 10 mW and a linewidth of 400 kHz are presented. The influence of the laser’s output power and coherence length on the performance of a semiconductor-laser-based FMCW laser radar is discussed.

© 1999 Optical Society of America

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