OSA's Digital Library

Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: Andrew M. Weiner
  • Vol. 21, Iss. 7 — Apr. 8, 2013
  • pp: 8904–8915

Kilometer-range, high resolution depth imaging via 1560 nm wavelength single-photon detection

Aongus McCarthy, Nils J. Krichel, Nathan R. Gemmell, Ximing Ren, Michael G. Tanner, Sander N. Dorenbos, Val Zwiller, Robert H. Hadfield, and Gerald S. Buller  »View Author Affiliations

Optics Express, Vol. 21, Issue 7, pp. 8904-8915 (2013)

View Full Text Article

Enhanced HTML    Acrobat PDF (5791 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



This paper highlights a significant advance in time-of-flight depth imaging: by using a scanning transceiver which incorporated a free-running, low noise superconducting nanowire single-photon detector, we were able to obtain centimeter resolution depth images of low-signature objects in daylight at stand-off distances of the order of one kilometer at the relatively eye-safe wavelength of 1560 nm. The detector used had an efficiency of 18% at 1 kHz dark count rate, and the overall system jitter was ~100 ps. The depth images were acquired by illuminating the scene with an optical output power level of less than 250 µW average, and using per-pixel dwell times in the millisecond regime.

© 2013 OSA

OCIS Codes
(030.5260) Coherence and statistical optics : Photon counting
(030.5290) Coherence and statistical optics : Photon statistics
(040.3780) Detectors : Low light level
(110.6880) Imaging systems : Three-dimensional image acquisition
(120.3930) Instrumentation, measurement, and metrology : Metrological instrumentation
(280.3400) Remote sensing and sensors : Laser range finder

ToC Category:
Imaging Systems

Original Manuscript: January 22, 2013
Revised Manuscript: February 21, 2013
Manuscript Accepted: February 21, 2013
Published: April 4, 2013

Aongus McCarthy, Nils J. Krichel, Nathan R. Gemmell, Ximing Ren, Michael G. Tanner, Sander N. Dorenbos, Val Zwiller, Robert H. Hadfield, and Gerald S. Buller, "Kilometer-range, high resolution depth imaging via 1560 nm wavelength single-photon detection," Opt. Express 21, 8904-8915 (2013)

Sort:  Author  |  Year  |  Journal  |  Reset  


  1. M. Amann, T. Bosch, M. Lescure, R. Myllyla, and M. Rioux, “Laser ranging: a critical review of usual techniques for distance measurement,” Opt. Eng.40(1), 10–19 (2001). [CrossRef]
  2. C. Mallet and F. Bretar, “Full-waveform topographic lidar: State-of-the-art,” ISPRS J. Photogramm. Remote Sens.64(1), 1–16 (2009). [CrossRef]
  3. G. S. Buller and R. J. Collins, “Single-photon generation and detection,” Meas. Sci. Technol.21(1), 012002 (2010). [CrossRef]
  4. S. Pellegrini, G. S. Buller, J. M. Smith, A. M. Wallace, and S. Cova, “Laser-based distance measurement using picosecond resolution time-correlated single-photon counting,” Meas. Sci. Technol.11(6), 712–716 (2000). [CrossRef]
  5. G. S. Buller and A. M. Wallace, “Ranging and three-dimensional imaging using time-correlated single-photon counting and point-by-point acquisition,” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron.13(4), 1006–1015 (2007). [CrossRef]
  6. R. H. Hadfield, “Single-photon detectors for optical quantum information applications,” Nat. Photonics3(12), 696–705 (2009). [CrossRef]
  7. W. Becker, Advanced Time-Correlated Single Photon Counting Techniques (Springer, 2005).
  8. A. McCarthy, R. J. Collins, N. J. Krichel, V. Fernández, A. M. Wallace, and G. S. Buller, “Long-range time-of-flight scanning sensor based on high-speed time-correlated single-photon counting,” Appl. Opt.48(32), 6241–6251 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  9. C. Ho, K. L. Albright, A. W. Bird, J. Bradley, D. E. Casperson, M. Hindman, W. C. Priedhorsky, W. R. Scarlett, R. C. Smith, J. Theiler, and S. K. Wilson, “Demonstration of literal three-dimensional imaging,” Appl. Opt.38(9), 1833–1840 (1999). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  10. J. J. Degnan, “Photon-counting multikilohertz microlaser altimeters for airborne and spaceborne topographic measurements,” J. Geodyn.34(3-4), 503–549 (2002). [CrossRef]
  11. M. A. Albota, B. F. Aull, D. G. Fouche, R. M. Heinrichs, D. G. Kocher, R. M. Marino, J. G. Mooney, N. R. Newbury, M. E. O’Brien, B. E. Player, B. C. Willard, and J. J. Zayhowski, “Three-dimensional imaging laser radars with Geiger-mode avalanche photodiode arrays,” Lincoln Lab. J.13, 351–370 (2002).
  12. B. F. Aull, A. H. Loomis, D. J. Young, R. M. Heinrichs, B. J. Felton, P. J. Daniels, and D. J. Landers, “Geiger mode avalanche photodiodes for three-dimensional imaging,” Lincoln Lab. J.13, 335–350 (2002).
  13. G. S. Buller, R. D. Harkins, A. McCarthy, P. A. Hiskett, G. MacKinnon, G. Smith, R. Sung, A. Wallace, R. Lamb, K. Ridley, and J. Rarity, “Multiple wavelength time-of-flight sensor based on time-correlated single-photon counting,” Rev. Sci. Instrum.76(8), 083112 (2005). [CrossRef]
  14. M. G. Tanner, C. M. Natarajan, V. K. Pottapenjara, J. A. O'Connor, R. J. Warburton, R. H. Hadfield, B. Baek, S. Nam, S. N. Dorenbos, E. Urena, T. Zijlstra, T. Klapwijk, and V. Zwiller, “Enhanced telecom wavelength single-photon detection with NbTiN superconducting nanowires on oxidized silicon,” Appl. Phys. Lett.96(22), 221109 (2010). [CrossRef]
  15. L. S. Rothman, D. Jacquemart, A. Barbe, D. Chris Benner, M. Birk, L. R. Brown, M. R. Carleer, C. Chackerian, K. Chance, L. H. Coudert, V. Dana, V. M. Devi, J.-M. Flaud, R. R. Gamache, A. Goldman, J.-M. Hartmann, K. W. Jucks, A. G. Maki, J.-Y. Mandin, S. T. Massie, J. Orphal, A. Perrin, C. P. Rinsland, M. A. H. Smith, J. Tennyson, R. N. Tolchenov, R. A. Toth, J. Vander Auwera, P. Varanasi, and G. Wagner, “The HITRAN 2004 molecular spectroscopic database,” J. Quant. Spectrosc. Radiat. Transf.96(2), 139–204 (2005). [CrossRef]
  16. H. Willebrand and B. S. Ghuman, Free Space Optics: Enabling Optical Connectivity in Today's Networks (Sams, 2002).
  17. S. Pellegrini, R. E. Warburton, L. J. J. Tan, J. S. Ng, A. B. Krysa, K. Groom, J. P. R. David, S. Cova, M. J. Robertson, and G. S. Buller, “Design and performance of an InGaAs-InP single-photon avalanche diode detector,” IEEE J. Quantum Electron.42(4), 397–403 (2006). [CrossRef]
  18. N. Namekata, S. Adachi, and S. Inoue, “Ultra-low-noise sinusoidally gated avalanche photodiode for high-speed single-photon detection at telecommunication wavelengths,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett.22(8), 529–531 (2010). [CrossRef]
  19. M. Ren, X. R. Gu, Y. Liang, W. B. Kong, E. Wu, G. Wu, and H. P. Zeng, “Laser ranging at 1550 nm with 1-GHz sine-wave gated InGaAs/InP APD single-photon detector,” Opt. Express19(14), 13497–13502 (2011). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  20. M. Entwistle, M. A. Itzler, J. Chen, M. Owens, K. Patel, X. D. Jiang, K. Slomkowski, S. Rangwala, and J. C. Campbell, “Geiger-mode APD camera system for single photon 3-D LADAR imaging,” Advanced Photon Counting TechniquesVI, 8375 (2012).
  21. M. A. Diagne, M. Greszik, E. K. Duerr, J. J. Zayhowski, M. J. Manfra, R. J. Bailey, J. P. Donnelly, and G. W. Turner, “Integrated array of 2-μm antimonide-based single-photon counting devices,” Opt. Express19(5), 4210–4216 (2011). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  22. P. A. Hiskett, C. S. Parry, A. McCarthy, and G. S. Buller, “A photon-counting time-of-flight ranging technique developed for the avoidance of range ambiguity at gigahertz clock rates,” Opt. Express16(18), 13685–13698 (2008). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  23. C. M. Natarajan, M. G. Tanner, and R. H. Hadfield, “Superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors: physics and applications,” Supercond. Sci. Technol.25(6), 063001 (2012). [CrossRef]
  24. R. E. Warburton, A. McCarthy, A. M. Wallace, S. Hernandez-Marin, R. H. Hadfield, S. W. Nam, and G. S. Buller, “Subcentimeter depth resolution using a single-photon counting time-of-flight laser ranging system at 1550 nm wavelength,” Opt. Lett.32(15), 2266–2268 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  25. N. J. Krichel, A. McCarthy, I. Rech, M. Ghioni, A. Gulinatti, and G. S. Buller, “Cumulative data acquisition in comparative photon-counting three-dimensional imaging,” J. Mod. Opt.58(3-4), 244–256 (2011). [CrossRef]
  26. A. N. Bashkatov, E. A. Genina, V. I. Kochubey, and V. V. Tuchin, “Optical properties of human skin, subcutaneous and mucous tissues in the wavelength range from 400 to 2000 nm,” J. Phys. D Appl. Phys.38(15), 2543–2555 (2005). [CrossRef]

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

Supplementary Material

» Media 1: MOV (3011 KB)     

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited