Sensors for spaceborne aerosol, cloud, and ocean (ACO) lidar must possess very wide dynamic range to cover the weakest stratospheric returns from the Rayleigh region and the strongest atmospheric targets, such as bright water clouds and strong reflections from the ocean surface. Currently this is not possible using a single sensor. To address NASA’s need for next-generation spaceborne lidar systems for ACO profiling, Voxtel proposed to develop a high-dynamic-range photon-counting (HiP) sensor. The 65,536 pixel element (256 x 256-format) HiP sensor integrates Voxtel’s highly sensitive (400 – 1000-nm with ≥ 50% photon detection probability, PDP, at 532 nm), low-noise (≤ 10 Hz dark count rate per pixel), silicon single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) detector technology, which is integrated with novel in-pixel circuits to achieve a dynamic range of 100 million counts per second per pixel and the fast transient response required for both atmosphere and ocean profiling. The HiP sensor is manufactured using a commercial, high-volume, military/automotive-grade, complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) process, which makes it reliable, with high yields, and low cost.
The HiP sensor is the first integrated sensor for both ocean-profiling lidar from space and advanced retrievals of dense cloud properties, enabling multi-wavelength HSRL for vertically resolved profiling of clouds and aerosols in atmosphere and optical properties in ocean. Missions include the Decadal Survey for ESAS ACE, airborne and space-based measurement of water-vapor profiles. Other applications include direct-detection wind lidar, environmental & coastal monitoring, agriculture & precision forestry, forestry management & planning.
VIS-NIR (400 – 1000-nm) commercial lidar 3D imaging & photon counting applications: ADAS systems for automotive & autonomous vehicle markets; autonomous navigation & collision avoidance; 3D gesture & user interface; FLIM; rail mapping; security & surveillance; urban planning; BIM for construction, building management, and infrastructure; and defense & emergency services.