Abstract

We present a new superheterodyne technique for long-distance measurements by two-wavelength interferometry (TWI). While conventional systems use two acousto-optic modulators to generate two different heterodyne frequencies, here the two frequencies result from synchronized sweeps of optical and radio frequencies. A distributed feedback laser source is injected in an intensity modulator that is driven at the half-wave voltage mode. A radio-frequency signal is applied to this intensity modulator to generate two optical sidebands around the optical carrier. This applied radio frequency consists of a digital ramp between 13 and 15GHz, with 1ms duration and with an accuracy of better than 1ppm. Simultaneously, the laser source is frequency modulated by a current modulation that is synchronized on the radio- frequency ramp as well as on a triangle waveform. These two frequency-swept optical signals at the output of the modulator illuminate a Michelson interferometer and create two distinct distance-dependent heterodyne frequencies on the photodetector. The superheterodyne signal is then detected and bandpass filtered to retrieve the absolute distance measurement. Experiments between 1 and 15m confirm the validity of this new concept, leading to a distance accuracy of ±50μm for a 1ms acquisition time.

© 2010 Optical Society of America

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