Montana Patent of the Month – March 2021

Interferometry uses the optical phase of a laser to measure physical displacement of a surface. However, they are not accurate for absolute distance because of an issue called “fringe ambiguity” Fringe ambiguity refers to the repetition of every integer number of wavelengths in the phase value. In order to avoid this problem, you would need to know this integer beforehand so that the calculations can be modified correctly. These integers can be very difficult to determine though. For this reason, measuring displacement instead of absolute distance has been the classic methodology. Bridger Photonics, Inc. has designed a new method to measure distance.

Bridger Photonics focuses on providing precision LiDAR solutions to enable new capabilities and improved efficiencies. Their new distance measurement design uses two lasers with different outputs and a beam combiner. This combined beam is projected to an optical detector which determines an interference signal. Outputs are directed to reflect off of a reference surface and the desired surface. A processor then uses the signal, and each output to calculate distance based on the differences in path lengths.

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