A patent on Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology, developed by EECS Professors Ron Hui, Chris Allen, and their Ph.D. student Peter Adany, has sold to a long-time licensed user in industry.
LIDAR accurately measures the distance and velocity of a target. This technology is widely used in aviation, self-driving cars and 3D imaging, to name a few applications. To achieve acceptable range accuracy and detection sensitivity, many long-range LIDAR systems use short pulse lasers with a low pulse repetition rate and extremely high pulse peak power. In such systems, damage from photons can pose a safety hazard.
In their research, Hui, Allen, and Adany developed an FM chirped LIDAR system with coherent homodyne detection. This LIDAR system uses a linear frequency RF chirp to modulate the optical pulses, and uses a simplified de-chirping operation that converts the time delay information of the return pulses into frequency readings. In this configuration, the range accuracy depends on the RF chirp bandwidth rather than the pulse duration, and therefore excellent range accuracy can be obtained using long optical pulses with low peak power. Quantum-limited detection sensitivity can be achieved with this coherent homodyne detection receiver.
The patent "Coherent detection scheme for FM chirped laser radar" was filed in 2007 by Hui, Allen, and Adany and was granted in 2010. This technology has been licensed for a number of years to a U.S. company, which recently decided to acquire the patent.