Impact of speckle on laser range-gated shortwave infrared imaging system target identification performance

Ronald G. Driggers, Richard H. Vollmerhausen, Nicole Devitt, Carl Halford, Kenneth J. Barnard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


The U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force are investigating laser range-gated shortwave IR (LRG-SWIR) imaging systems for use in target identification. When coupled to an electron-bombarded CCD, the imaging system can obtain high-resolution images at long ranges. Speckle, an image artifact inherent in laser-illuminated imaging systems, results from interference patterns caused by the coherent illumination. Laser speckle degrades target identification performance but can be reduced by averaging successive LRG-SWIR images. This research is a first attempt at quantifying target identification performance degradation associated with laser speckle. The research begins with a laboratory experiment to verify a speckle model that includes power spectral density and intensity probability density functions. An LRG-SWIR sensor simulation is developed that includes coherent illumination resulting in speckle target images. A field demonstration is performed to verify the fidelity of the simulation. The simulation is then applied to the U.S. Army Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD) target identification set with various levels of image averaging and blur. Observer performance results are analyzed in terms of target identification probability and the effects of various levels of blur and speckle are characterized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)738-746
Number of pages9
JournalOptical Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Electro-optics performance modeling
  • Laser range-gated imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Engineering


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