Technique to separate lidar signal and sunlight

Sun, W., Y. Hu, D. G. MacDonnell, C. Weimer, and R. R. Baize (2016), Technique to separate lidar signal and sunlight, Opt. Express, 24, 12949-12954, doi:10.1364/OE.24.012949.

Sunlight contamination dominates the backscatter noise in spacebased lidar measurements during daytime. The background scattered sunlight is highly variable and dependent upon the surface and atmospheric albedo. The scattered sunlight contribution to noise increases over land and snow surfaces where surface albedos are high and thus overwhelm lidar backscatter from optically thin atmospheric constituents like aerosols and thin clouds. In this work, we developed a novel lidar remote sensing concept that potentially can eliminate sunlight induced noise. The new lidar concept requires: (1) a transmitted laser light that carries orbital angular momentum (OAM); and (2) a photon sieve (PS) diffractive filter that separates scattered sunlight from laser light backscattered from the atmosphere, ocean and solid surfaces. The method is based on numerical modeling of the focusing of Laguerre-Gaussian (LG) laser beam and planewave light by a PS. The model results show that after passing through a PS, laser light that carries the OAM is focused on a ring (called “focal ring” here) on the focal plane of the PS filter, very little energy arrives at the center of the focal plane. However, scattered sunlight, as a plane wave without the OAM, focuses at the center of the focal plane and thus can be effectively blocked or ducted out. We also find that the radius of the “focal ring” increases with the increase of azimuthal mode (L) of LG laser light, thus increasing L can more effectively separate the lidar signal away from the sunlight noise.

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Research Program: 
Radiation Science Program (RSP)