Extending the range performance of diffraction limited imagers

Richard Vollmerhausen, Ronald Driggers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

7 Scopus citations


Even the best thermal imagers available today achieve only a fraction of the range performance that is theoretically possible with a given objective lens. Diffraction from the finite aperture of a thermal camera reduces the contrast of high spatial frequencies as well as limiting the maximum spatial frequency in the image. Reclaiming the high frequency contrast can substantially extend range over what is normally thought of as diffraction limited performance. As explained in this paper, the requirements for achieving extended range are 1) small pitch large format focal planes, 2) deep charge well capacities, and 3) intensive deconvolution processing. We will call this combination PWP for pitch, well capacity, and processing which can theoretically increase range performance by a factor of 1.7 for an increase of 70%. In this paper, we also estimate the improved range performance that results from increasing the electron well capacity of long wave infrared cameras. The three technologies needed for a significant advance in thermal imaging are all available today: these include small pixel high density focal planes, deep wells or digital read outs, and digital processors. We hope this paper excites interest in combining those technologies to provide a significant advance in thermal imager performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInfrared Imaging Systems
Subtitle of host publicationDesign, Analysis, Modeling, and Testing XXVIII
EditorsGerald C. Holst, Keith A. Krapels
ISBN (Electronic)9781510608573
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event28th Conference on Infrared Imaging Systems: Design, Analysis, Modeling, and Testing - Anaheim, United States
Duration: Apr 11 2017Apr 12 2017

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


Conference28th Conference on Infrared Imaging Systems: Design, Analysis, Modeling, and Testing
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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