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A Point of Light

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It is difficult to capture clear photos in low light.

A Boston University engineering professor thinks he may have solved the problem of capturing clear images in low light.

Credit: tokolov/iStock

Boston University professor Vivek Goyal says he has overcome the challenges of photographing clear images in low light.

"When you use the right kind of mathematical modeling for the detection of individual photons, you can make the leap to forming images of useful quality from extremely small amounts of detected light," Goyal says.

His U.S. National Science Foundation-funded research integrated new image formation algorithms with a single-photon camera to generate images from about one photon per pixel.

The single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) camera features 1,024 light-detecting elements, enabling the device to make multiple measurements simultaneously to facilitate quicker, more efficient data acquisition.

Both infrared laser pulses and an ordinary incandescent light bulb are used to illuminate the scene, which is reflected back to the SPAD camera. An algorithm then analyzes the raw data and uses it to build an image.

"Achieving this quality of imaging with very few detected photons while using a SPAD camera had never been done before, so it's a new accomplishment in having both extreme photon efficiency and fast, parallel acquisition with an array," notes Massachusetts Institute of Technology postdoctoral researcher Dongeek Shin.

Goyal says the technique could be applicable to long-range remote sensing, especially in mapping and military use.

From BU Research
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Abstracts Copyright © 2016 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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