In this 3D ladar image of the Massachusetts State House, the colors indicate height, ranging from ground level at blue through the spectrum to red for the tallest elements in the image.

Active Optical Systems

We conduct R&D in advanced electro-optical and infrared sensors used in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and tactical missions. We focus on developing field-deployable active and passive imaging and remote-sensing systems. Our operational three-dimensional imaging laser radars (ladars) employ unique large-format, high-bandwidth detector arrays that are sensitive to single photons and are capable of rapidly mapping city-scale areas at very high resolution. We develop advanced algorithms and employ computer-vision techniques to perform automated scene interpretation. We are also developing coherent laser radar, exploring the adaptation of advanced radar techniques to the optical wavelengths and pushing the bandwidth of coherent systems to the terahertz scale. Another significant research area in our group is the development of advanced passive receivers that are based on high-bandwidth digital focal plane arrays capable of on-chip processing. We perform systems analysis to formulate mission-specific sensor concepts and conduct experiments to validate those concepts. We also perform data collection campaigns to investigate new phenomena and develop novel sensing modalities based on these data. Our goal is to develop and deliver advanced optical systems that enable high-impact capabilities for the nation.

Featured Projects

A schematic of a plane equipped with a lidar detecting humans under dense tree canopy.
Lincoln Laboratory is exploring the feasibility of building an airborne sensing system to detect the presence of humans under dense tree canopy.
The Laboratory-developed PHOENIX High CASTLE collected this imagery of the amusement park Kings Dominion in Virginia during an initial flight campaign to test and optimize the performance of this 3D airborne ladar.
We developed a ladar that samples at the diffraction limit to collect high-resolution imagery for geospatial mapping missions.
Picture of rubble after a natural disaster.
disaster relief
Novel metamaterials deployed to provide a barrier around critical structures are designed to redirect and attenuate hazardous seismic waves.
Experiments with the micro-ladar yielded this image of the sombrero at the right.
optical systems
Recent advances in imaging architectures and real-time processing are enabling the development of a miniature ladar sensor that can be deployed on a UAV.

Advancing Our Research


8 - 10
MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, Massachusetts

Featured Publications

Seismic barrier protection of critical infrastructure

Apr 25
16th Annual IEEE Int. Symp. on Technologies for Homeland Security, HST 2017, 25-26 April 2017.

Optical phased-array ladar

Nov 1
Appl. Opt., Vol. 53, No. 31, 1 November 2014, pp. 7551-5.