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Optical Engineering

Radiance and photon noise: imaging in geometrical optics, physical optics, quantum optics and radiology
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Paper Abstract

The statistics of detector outputs produced by an imaging system are derived from basic radiometric concepts and definitions. We show that a fundamental way of describing a photon-limited imaging system is in terms of a Poisson random process in spatial, angular, and wavelength variables. We begin the paper by recalling the concept of radiance in geometrical optics, radiology, physical optics, and quantum optics. The propagation and conservation laws for radiance in each of these domains are reviewed. Building upon these concepts, we distinguish four categories of imaging detectors that all respond in some way to the incident radiance, including the new category of photon-processing detectors (capable of measuring radiance on a photon-by-photon basis). This allows us to rigorously show how the concept of radiance is related to the statistical properties of detector outputs and to the information content of a single detected photon. A Monte-Carlo technique, which is derived from the Boltzmann transport equation, is presented as a way to estimate probability density functions to be used in reconstruction from photon-processing data.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 January 2016
PDF: 13 pages
Opt. Eng. 55(1) 013102 doi: 10.1117/1.OE.55.1.013102
Published in: Optical Engineering Volume 55, Issue 1
Show Author Affiliations
Luca Caucci, The Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Kyle J. Myers, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (United States)
Harrison H. Barrett, College of Optical Sciences, The Univ. of Arizona (United States)

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