20 September 2016 Waveguide generated mitigation of speckle and scintillation on an actively illuminated target
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Abstract
Active illumination is often used when passive illumination cannot produce enough signal intensity to be a reliable imaging method. However, an increase in signal intensity is often achieved by using highly coherent laser sources, which produce undesirable effects such as speckle and scintillation. The deleterious effects of speckle and scintillation are often so immense that the imaging camera cannot receive intelligible data, thereby rendering the active illumination technique useless. By reducing the spatial coherence of the laser beam that is actively illuminating the object, it is possible to reduce the corruption of the received data caused by speckle and scintillation. The waveguide method discussed in this paper reduces spatial coherence through multiple total internal reflections, which create multiple virtual sources of diverse path lengths. The differing path lengths between the virtual sources and the target allow for the temporal coherence properties of the laser to be translated into spatial coherence properties. The resulting partial spatial coherence helps to mitigate the self-interference of the beam as it travels through the atmosphere and reflects off of optically rough targets. This mitigation method results in a cleaner, intelligible image that may be further processed for the intended use, unlike its unmitigated counterpart. Previous research has been done to independently reduce speckle or scintillation by way of spatial incoherence, but there has been no focus on modeling the waveguide, specifically the image plane the waveguide creates. Utilizing a ray-tracing method we can determine the coherence length of the source necessary to create incoherent spots in the image plane, as well as accurately modeling the image plane.
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Trevor D. Moore, Robert A. Raynor, Mark F. Spencer, Jason D. Schmidt, "Waveguide generated mitigation of speckle and scintillation on an actively illuminated target", Proc. SPIE 9982, Unconventional Imaging and Wavefront Sensing XII, 99820E (20 September 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2235357; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2235357
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