There are many trades to be made when designing an optical system. In this work, an incoherent optical detection sensor (often referred to as an energy- or direct-detection sensor, or a time-of-flight LiDAR) is designed at the sensor or top level using newly developed tools [Appl. Opt. 59, 1939 (2020) [CrossRef] ]. While incoherent detection sensors, relative to coherent frequency or phase-modulated sensors, are not as useful in cluttered environments, they have their place due to their simplicity and high performance in uncluttered or lightly cluttered environments. In this particular design, a nontraditional receive lens is utilized that has the unique ability to adjust the amount of return signal placed on the detector based on target range, i.e., a range-compensating lens (RCL) [Appl. Opt. 58, 7921 (2019) [CrossRef] ]. Only a two-element RCL is utilized in this work, but it proves the ability to shape the return signal gauging the changes in the stochastic performance, paving the way to a multi-element RCL for additional design freedom in shaping.
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