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A quantum-inspired approach will be able to increase LiDAR resolution

A quantum-inspired technique is now being used to perform LiDAR imaging with a much higher depth resolution. Typically, LiDAR is best suited for imaging large objects such as topographical features or built structures because of its limited depth resolution. Although LiDAR can scan a person’s shape, this new technique that researchers call imaging two-photon interference LiDAR captures enough details to see far beyond facial features.

High-resolution 3D images

Ashley Lyons, a researcher from the University of Glasgow, and Optics Express author Robbie Murray state that this new technique can distinguish reflective surfaces 2 millimeters apart and create high-resolution 3D images with micron-scale resolution. This in consequence can generate higher resolution 3D imaging which might be useful for facial recognition and tracking applications that involve small features.

How does this new technique work?

This new technique uses “quantum-inspired” interferometry, which extracts information from the way that two light beams interfere with one another. To create this new approach researchers applied what they’ve learned from quantum sensing to classical non-quantum light. With quantum entangled photons, only numerous photon pairs per unit of time can be generated, however, this doesn’t exist with classical light. The researchers used this property of classical light to very precisely time the arrival of one photon by looking at when two photons simultaneously arrive at detectors.

Enhancing depth resolution

Two-photon interference LiDAR works very similar to conventional LiDAR but allows researchers to more precisely time how long it takes for that photon to reach the detector, which is what causes the greater depth resolution. Although traditional LiDAR wouldn’t be ready to distinguish these two surfaces, researchers showed the high depth resolution of two-photon interference LiDAR by using it to detect the reflective surfaces of a piece of glass about 2 millimeters thick. They also tested this new technique to make a detailed 3D map of a 20-pence coin with 7-micron depth resolution. This confirmed that the technique could capture the necessary level of detail to differentiate key facial features or other differences between people.

Two-photon interference LiDAR could also work with single-photon levels and enhance more complex imaging approaches used for non-line-of-sight imaging or imaging through highly scattering media. Researchers keep working to form a faster process faster by reducing the amount of scanning necessary to acquire 3D information.

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