We have employed a two-dimensional multielement heterodyne detector array and demonstrated, for the first time to our knowledge, the enhanced detection efficiency of atmospheric-turbulence-distorted 1-μm coherent lidar returns. The heterodyne lidar signal intensity and statistical signal fluctuation were measured for both a 2 × 2 detector array and a single detector as a function of the atmospheric turbulence parameter Cn2. The detector array improved the lidar detection efficiency by a factor of approximately 4, and the statistical signal distribution changed from Rayleigh to Gaussian. This improvement is shown to be consistent with a first-order analysis.
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