AN INSTRUMENTAL BASIS FOR MULTISPECTRAL LIDAR WITH SPECTRALLY-RESOLVED DISTANCE MEASUREMENTS
Hyperspectral solutions augment laser scanning technology with material probing capabilities by measuring target reflectance along with topography. We propose a novel instrumental basis that enables also spectrally-resolved distance measurement with sufficient sensitivity as to access dispersive phenomena on the reflecting target and along the propagation medium, further enhancing the material analysis capabilities of hyperspectral approaches. To this end we have extended distance metrology using intermode beat notes of a mode-locked femtosecond laser to cover flexibly selected spectral regions. The approach is based on an ultra-broadband source derived from a femtosecond laser via coherent supercontinuum generation. Herein we provide a first demonstration of the successful application of this technique to reflectorless measurements and thus its feasibility for multispectral LiDAR. We use a table-top experimental set-up to assess the approach by measuring distance, spectrally-resolved relative distance and reflectance to 5 different material samples on 5 multiplexed contiguous spectral bands of 50 nm in the range of 600 nm to 850 nm. We have achieved a distance measurement precision and accuracy better than 100 μm using integration times of about 30 ms, with promising perspectives regarding scalability to practical distances. The spectrally-resolved distance measurements also show repeatable material-dependent profiles with differences between materials up to several tenths of mm in some spectral bands. Combined with simultaneously acquired reflectance estimations, these profiles enable collecting additional target information, indicating the potential of the approach to enhance the material probing capabilities of prospective multispectral laser scanners.