Imagers that use their own illumination can capture 3D structure and reflectivity information. With photon-counting detectors, images can be acquired at extremely low photon fluxes. To suppress the Poisson noise inherent in low-flux operation, such imagers typically require hundreds of detected photons per pixel for accurate range and reflectivity determination. We introduce a low-flux imaging technique, called first-photon imaging, which is a computational imager that exploits spatial correlations found in real-world scenes and the physics of low-flux measurements. Our technique recovers 3D structure and reflectivity from the first detected photon at each pixel. We demonstrate simultaneous acquisition of sub-pulse duration range and 4-bit reflectivity information in the presence of high background noise. First-photon imaging may be of considerable value to both microscopy and remote sensing.
A. Kirmani, D. Venkatraman, D. Shin, A. Colaço, F. N. C. Wong, J. H. Shapiro, and V. K. Goyal,
Science, vol. 343, no. 6166, pp. 58-61, 3 Jan 2014.
Additional commentary online at many sites including: Gizmodo, Mashable, Nuit Blanche.
This work was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency InPho program through U.S. Army Research Office award W911NF-10-1-0404,
the U.S. NSF under grant number 1161413, a Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship, a Samsung Scholarship, and a Microsoft Ph.D. Fellowship.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors
and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.