High-accuracy absolute distance measurement with a mode-resolved optical frequency comb

Dirk Voigt, Steven A. Van Den Berg, Adam Lešundák, S. van Eldik, Nandini Bhattacharya

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Optical interferometry enables highly accurate non-contact displacement measurement. The optical phase ambiguity needs to be resolved for absolute distance ranging. In controlled laboratory conditions and for short distances it is possible to track a non-interrupted displacement from a reference position to a remote target. With large distances covered in field applications this may not be feasible, e.g. in structure monitoring, large scale industrial manufacturing or aerospace navigation and attitude control. We use an optical frequency comb source to explore absolute distance measurement by means of a combined spectral and multi-wavelength homodyne interferometry. This relaxes the absolute distance ambiguity to a few tens of centimeters, covered by simpler electronic distance meters, while maintaining highly accurate optical phase measuring capability. A virtually imaged phased array spectrometer records a spatially dispersed interferogram in a single exposure and allows for resolving the modes of our near infrared comb source with 1 GHz mode separation. This enables measurements with direct traceability of the atomic clock referenced comb source. We observed agreement within 500 nm in comparison with a commercial displacement interferometer for target distances up to 50 m. Furthermore, we report on current work toward applicability in less controlled conditions. A filter cavity decimates the comb source to an increased mode separation larger than 20 GHz. A simple grating spectrometer then allows to record mode-resolved interferograms.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOptical Sensing and Detection IV
EditorsFrancis Berghmans, Anna G. Mignani
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-510601444
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventOptical Sensing and Detection IV - Brussels, Belgium
Duration: 3 Apr 20167 Apr 2016

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


ConferenceOptical Sensing and Detection IV


  • distance measurement
  • frequency mode filter
  • laser ranging
  • measurement uncertainty
  • optical frequency comb
  • optical metrology
  • spectral interferometry
  • traceability


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