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

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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