Optical imaging allowing for a light-weight, high-resolution camera for multi-spectral imaging.
This technology can enable a light weight, thin color camera with high resolution with pixel size below the current color cross-talk limit defined by conventional color filters, multi-spectral imaging from visible to near IR in a single CMOS detector, wide dynamic range (from weak to strong signal), and wide field of view and extended depth of field, features which apply in the following fields:
1. A satellite camera, which would take advantage of the high resolution, wide field of view, multi-spectral imaging and ability to image weak sources in the presence of a strong source. A specialty multi-wavelength (from visible to IR) satellite camera with perhaps a gigapixel capability would be a good first application because it could afford the use of a precision micro-structured phase plate and a powerful computer for image processing.
2. Computational imaging solutions, which provide both an image and also attributes about the image, from the multi-spectral data.
3. Infrared cameras and viewing systems with extended depth of field.
4. A rugged and jam-proof telescope or microscope, enabled by the wide dynamic range, extended depth of field and multi-spectral imaging capabilities.
5. At some time in the future, the technology may also be extended to a consumer camera because of the thin configuration (with a simple lens-less phase aperture array and detector) and extended depth of field, which eliminates the need for an optical zoom lens assembly. The potential for small pixels without the constraint of a color filter/cross talk problem suggests the system can either provide either very high resolution in color or lower cost, smaller CMOS detector chips.
This technology enables a high resolution, thin camera which can image from the optical to near infrared wavelengths with a conventional CMOS image sensor. Color imaging is realized without filters in a monochromatic detector array so the color cross-talk of a conventional lens/ Bayer filter array combination is avoided. Instead of the typical three color separation of a conventional camera (with RGB filters) this camera could be separate as many as 10 or 20 wavelength bands up to the near IR, for greater image analysis.
The depth of field of imaging is very large.
The camera would be capable of diffraction limited resolution, and scattered bad pixels in the detector will have a limited effect on image quality.
Because of its very high dynamic range, the camera would be able to detect a very weak source in the presence of a strong source.
URV Reference Number: 2-11150-10004