Depth imaging at kilometer range using time-correlated single-photon counting at wavelengths of 850 nm and 1560 nm

Gerald Stuart Buller*, Aongus McCarthy, Ximing Ren, Nathan R. Gemmell, Robert John Collins, Nils J. Krichel, Michael G. Tanner, Andrew M. Wallace, Sandor Dorenbos, Val Zwiller, Robert H. Hadfield

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Citations (Scopus)


Active depth imaging approaches are being used in a number of emerging applications, for example in environmental sensing, manufacturing and defense. The high sensitivity and picosecond timing resolution of the time-correlated single-photon counting technique can provide distinct advantages in the trade-offs between required illumination power, range, depth resolution and data acquisition durations. These considerations must also address requirements for eye-safety, especially in applications requiring outdoor, kilometer range sensing. We present a scanning time-of-flight imager based on MHz repetition-rate pulsed illumination operating with sub-milliwatt average power. The use of a scanning mechanism permits operation with an individual, highperformance single-photon detector. The system has been used with a number of non-cooperative targets, in different weather conditions and various ambient light conditions. We consider a number of system issues, including the range ambiguity issue and scattering from multiple surfaces. The initial work was performed at wavelengths around 850 nm for convenient use with Si-based single photon avalanche diode detectors, however we will also discuss the performance at a wavelength of 1560 nm, made using superconducting nanowire single photon detectors. The use of the latter wavelength band allows access to a low-loss atmospheric window, as well as greatly reduced solar background contribution and less stringent eye safety considerations. We consider a range of optical design configurations and discuss the performance trade-offs and future directions in more detail.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiosensing and Nanomedicine V
EditorsHooman Mohseni, Massoud H. Agahi, Manijeh Razeghi
ISBN (Print)9780819491770
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2012
EventSPIE Nanoscience + Engineering 2012 - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: 12 Aug 201215 Aug 2012

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


ConferenceSPIE Nanoscience + Engineering 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • Depth imaging
  • Photon counting
  • Remote sensing
  • Single-photon detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Mathematics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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