In autodyne interferometry, the beating between the reference beam and the signal beam takes place inside the laser cavity and therefore the laser fulfills simultaneously the roles of the emitter and the detector of photons. In these conditions, the laser relaxation oscillations play a leading role, both in the laser quantum noise that determines the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and also in the laser dynamics that determine the response time of the interferometer. In the present study, we have theoretically analyzed the SNR and the response time of a laser optical feedback imaging (LOFI) setup based on an autodyne interferometer. More precisely, we have compared the image quality of two lasers having the same output power and the same relaxation frequency, but having two different values of the LOFI gain induced by two different values of the laser response time. From this study, we have finally determined the best laser dynamical parameters and the best experimental conditions for high-speed imaging at the shot-noise limit. Finally, we conclude that a laser diode with a very short response time (in the nanosecond range) seems to be an interesting candidate compared to solid-state microchip laser with a response time of several tens of microseconds. Analytical predictions are confirmed by numerical simulations.
© 2012 Optical Society of America
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