Development of an eye-safe diode-laser-based micro-pulse differential absorption lidar (mp-DIAL) for atmospheric water-vapor and aerosol studies
Nehrir, Amin Reza
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This dissertation describes the design, construction, and testing of an all diode-laser-based water-vapor differential absorption lidar (DIAL) instrument through two distinct stages of development. A second generation low pulse energy, high pulse repetition frequency DIAL instrument was developed to overcome the power limitations of the first generation instrument which required unrealistic integration times approaching 1 hour. The second generation DIAL transmitter used a custom built external cavity diode laser (ECDL) as the seed source for an actively current pulsed tapered semiconductor optical amplifier (TSOA), yielding a maximum output transmitter pulse energy of 2 microjoules over a 1 microsecond duration pulse width at a 20 kHz pulse repetition frequency, decreasing the required integration Period to approximately 20-30 minutes. Nighttime and daytime water-vapor profiles were collected with the second generation DIAL instrument which showed good agreement with collocated radiosonde measurements from near the surface up to the top of the planetary boundary layer. Aerosol optical properties were also measured using the calibrated offline channel returns using the iterative Fernald solution to the lidar equation. Most recently, a third generation DIAL transmitter has been developed to further increase the output pulse energy and to also decrease the DIAL atmospheric spectral sampling time. Two custom built high power ECDL's and an electro-mechanical based fiber optic switch are used to sequentially seed a single stage actively current pulsed TSOA in order to minimize the systematic errors introduced in the DIAL retrievals resulting from air-mass miss-sampling between the two DIAL wavelengths. Peak output pulse energies of 7 microjoules have been measured over 1 microsecond pulse durations at a 10 kHz pulse repetition frequency with a 1-6 second DIAL spectral switching time, further decreasing the total required integration period to 20 minutes for both nighttime and daytime operation. The increased performance of the third generation transmitter has allowed for nighttime and daytime water vapor profiling under varying atmospheric conditions that shows good agreement with collocated radiosonde measurements up to ~ 6 km and ~ 3 km, respectively. A detailed description of the second and third generation DIAL instrument performance as well as data retrievals are presented in this dissertation. Future work to improve the current third generation DIAL instrument for full-time autonomous measurements of atmospheric water-vapor and aerosols is also discussed.