Photon information in imaging applications - Literature study


  • Markus Henriksson
  • David Bergström
  • Ingmar Renhorn
  • Jonas Tidström

Publish date: 2011-03-11

Report number: FOI-R--3156--SE

Pages: 56

Written in: Swedish


  • optical imaging
  • quantum optics
  • single photon detectors
  • infrared
  • laser radar


This report summarizes a literature survey on methods for improved performance of imaging, and optical measurements in general, from quantum optics, single photon detectors and other new optical methods. The focus of the study has been imaging at distances longer than 100 m. Both passive imaging collecting natural photons and active imaging with a laser transmitter in the system has been considered. True quantum optical methods are difficult to use for imaging at some distance as performance is destroyed by system loss. In the few cases where there is a theoretical advantage to using quantum optics the needed systems are often so complicated that the same performance improvement can often be achieved more easily using purely classical techniques, e.g. by increasing the system aperture. There are a few exceptions where quantum optics produces real performance improvements, e.g. using entangled photons for calibration of radiometric detectors. Single photon detectors, that can be described by classical physics, show more advantages. They can be used to improve the sensitivity in passive imaging and allow imaging in wavelength bands and light conditions where imaging is not possible with classical cameras, and in due time direct hyperspectral imaging without filters using photon energy resolving detectors may be possible. single photon detectors can also be used for time correlated single photon counting to do range profiling with high resolution and dynamics. There are a number of new laser radar concepts described by complex physical reasoning, e.g. ghost imaging and sub-Rayleigh imaging. Several are basically variants of classical scanning laser radar. There are scenarios where these new concepts can give better performance than classical systems. Orbital angular momentum angular is a relatively recently discovered property of light that have found applications in e.g. astronomy where it is used to black out stars when searching for exo-planets. Similar and new applications in earth based imaging systems are a clear possibility.