System-level noise performance of coherent imaging systems

Derek J. Burrell, Joshua H. Follansbee, Mark F. Spencer, Ronald G. Driggers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We provide an in-depth analysis of noise considerations in coherent imaging, accounting for speckle and scintillation in addition to “conventional” image noise. Specifically, we formulate closed-form expressions for total effective noise in the presence of speckle only, scintillation only, and speckle combined with scintillation. We find analytically that photon shot noise is uncorrelated with both speckle and weak-to-moderate scintillation, despite their shared dependence on the mean signal. Furthermore, unmitigated speckle and scintillation noise tends to dominate coherent-imaging performance due to a squared mean-signal dependence. Strong coupling occurs between speckle and scintillation when both are present, and we characterize this behavior by fitting a scale factor capable of generating variances in closed form. We verify each of these claims through a series of wave-optics simulations, and we see strong agreement in general between numerical results and theoretical predictions. Our findings allow us to confidently gauge signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) expectations when active illumination produces coherent noise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38625-38639
Number of pages15
JournalOptics Express
Issue number23
StatePublished - Nov 6 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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