Intellectual property patent status

The detection of pulsed laser signals is a common requirement in many industrial settings, optical communications, and defence applications – from range finding to free-space optical communication, and much more. A new technology has been created to improve upon current options on the market for these purposes, increasing dynamic range and removing key challenges for the user.



In the detection of pulsed laser signals, when the intensity of the signal is predictable, the sensitivity of the detector can be specifically matched accordingly. However, in many situations the intensity is not predictable, and therefore selecting a suitable detector can become problematic.

A key issue users can face is limited dynamic range of the chosen detector, which can mean incoming signals fall either above or below the limits of the detection capabilities of a particular sensor. If a signal falls outside of this limited dynamic range, it can often cause problems for those in laser based optical communications, or in optical fibre networks, and there may not be a detector with a wider dynamic range available.

This is particularly prominent in applications such as laser range finding, 3D mapping, atmospheric monitoring, and in autonomous vehicles which all rely on the detection of reflected laser pulses over a wide range of uncontrolled conditions. Reflected signals may come back at a wide range of intensities, posing a severe challenge to the limited dynamic range of the detection sensor.

The solution

A new innovation – a passive device – overcomes these issues to increase the effective dynamic range of the detector, and therefore significantly improves the probability of accurately detecting pulsed laser signals, even in uncontrolled or unpredictable conditions.

Precisely configured fibre couplers and delay lines are used to split an incoming signal into a chain of replicas of increasing intensity. This is comparable to an echo, but with the volume increasing progressively over a fixed number of echoes. The chain of pulses can be used to effectively increase the detector’s dynamic range by several orders of magnitude.

With an increased dynamic range, this significantly reduces the risk of falling either under or over the detector’s limits, and enables the effective detection of pulsed laser signals in a broader range of circumstances.

Key benefits

  • This technology provides a convenient way to detect uncharacterised pulsed laser signals and measure them, with a high rate of accuracy across a broader range of amplitudes than users could previously achieve.
  • The device is compatible with almost any laser detector or laser emitter, and can therefore be retrofitted into any sensing system.
  • The device is customisable and can be tailored precisely to the user’s application by configuration of the time delay and the amplification characteristics applied to the signal.
  • With high dynamic range, over-saturation of the detector is mitigated to deliver an increase in the effective dynamic range of a sensor by at least two orders of magnitude.
  • The device does not need a power source which makes it easy to integrate with existing systems.
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Potential applications

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Free space optical communications systems

This technology enables more robust optical data networks for computer networking or telecommunications, reducing the risk of signals falling out of range, in uncontrolled free space environments.

Optical fibre network fault diagnostics and test instrumentation

This technology can be used in the testing and fault diagnostics of optical fibre networks.

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LiDAR (‘light detection and ranging’) applications

This technology is potentially suitable for LiDAR applications, as it uses light pulses to measure key metrics in atmospheric research, measure distance and generate 3D models and mapping of the earth’s surface, and in autonomous vehicles.

Rangefinders applications

In both the sports and defence industries, the detection of pulsed laser signals is a common requirement that can benefit from an improved dynamic range.

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Laser science and engineering research

This technology has already been utilised in furthering research and understanding of laser science, improving user experience and capabilities.

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