Abstract

A theoretical analysis and experimental verification of the sensitivity limits of frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) ladar in the limit of a strong local oscillator is presented. The single-photon sensitivity of coherent heterodyne detection in this shot-noise dominated limit is verified to extend to linearly chirped waveforms. An information theoretic analysis is presented to estimate the information efficiency of received photons for the task of locating the range to single and multiple targets. It is found that the optimum receive signal level is proportional to the logarithm of the number of resolvable range locations and the maximum theoretical photon information efficiency for FMCW ranging with coherent fields is log(e)1.44 bits per received photon.

© 2013 Optical Society of America

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