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  • Received: Feb. 7, 2020

    Accepted: Jul. 12, 2020

    Posted: Jul. 13, 2020

    Published Online: Sep. 3, 2020

    The Author Email: Feihu Xu (

    DOI: 10.1364/PRJ.390091

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    Zheng-Ping Li, Xin Huang, Yuan Cao, Bin Wang, Yu-Huai Li, Weijie Jin, Chao Yu, Jun Zhang, Qiang Zhang, Cheng-Zhi Peng, Feihu Xu, Jian-Wei Pan. Single-photon computational 3D imaging at 45 km[J]. Photonics Research, 2020, 8(9): 09001532

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Photonics Research, Vol. 8, Issue 9, 09001532 (2020)

Single-photon computational 3D imaging at 45 km 

Zheng-Ping Li1,2,3,†, Xin Huang1,2,3,†, Yuan Cao1,2,3,†, Bin Wang1,2,3, Yu-Huai Li1,2,3, Weijie Jin1,2,3, Chao Yu1,2,3, Jun Zhang1,2,3, Qiang Zhang1,2,3, Cheng-Zhi Peng1,2,3, Feihu Xu1,2,3,*, and Jian-Wei Pan1,2,3

Author Affiliations

  • 1Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at Microscale and Department of Modern Physics, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei 230026, China
  • 2Shanghai Branch, CAS Center for Excellence in Quantum Information and Quantum Physics, University of Science and Technology of China, Shanghai 201315, China
  • 3Shanghai Research Center for Quantum Sciences, Shanghai 201315, China


Single-photon light detection and ranging (lidar) offers single-photon sensitivity and picosecond timing resolution, which is desirable for high-precision three-dimensional (3D) imaging over long distances. Despite important progress, further extending the imaging range presents enormous challenges because only a few echo photons return and are mixed with strong noise. Here, we tackled these challenges by constructing a high-efficiency, low-noise coaxial single-photon lidar system and developing a long-range-tailored computational algorithm that provides high photon efficiency and good noise tolerance. Using this technique, we experimentally demonstrated active single-photon 3D imaging at a distance of up to 45 km in an urban environment, with a low return-signal level of 1 photon per pixel. Our system is feasible for imaging at a few hundreds of kilometers by refining the setup, and thus represents a step towards low-power and high-resolution lidar over extra-long ranges.

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