Subcentimeter depth resolution using a single-photon counting time-of-flight laser ranging system at 1550 nm wavelength

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Warburton, R.E. ; McCarthy, A. ; Wallace, A.M. ; Hernandez-Marin, S. ; Hadfield, R. ; Nam, S.W. ; Buller, G.S. (2007)

We demonstrate subcentimeter depth profiling at a stand off distance of 330m using a time-of-flight approach based on time-correlated single-photon counting. For the first time to our knowledge, the photon-counting time-of-flight technique was demonstrated at a wavelength of 1550nm using a superconducting nanowire single-photon detector. The performance achieved suggests that a system using superconducting detectors has the potential for low-light-level and eye-safe operation. The system’s instrumental response was 70ps full width at half-maximum, which meant that 1cm surface-to-surface resolution could be achieved by locating the centroids of each return signal. A depth resolution of 4mm was achieved by employing an optimized signal-processing algorithm based on a reversible jump Markov chain Monte Carlo method.
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