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Proceedings Paper

Investigations of high-speed digital imaging of low-light-level events using pulsed near-infrared laser light sources
Author(s): Connie Jantzen; Rick Slagle
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Paper Abstract

The distinction between exposure time and sample rate is often the first point raised in any discussion of high speed imaging. Many high speed events require exposure times considerably shorter than those that can be achieved solely by the sample rate of the camera, where exposure time equals 1/sample rate. Gating, a method of achieving short exposure times in digital cameras, is often difficult to achieve for exposure time requirements shorter than 100 microseconds. This paper discusses the advantages and limitations of using the short duration light pulse of a near infrared laser with high speed digital imaging systems. By closely matching the output wavelength of the pulsed laser to the peak near infrared response of current sensors, high speed image capture can be accomplished at very low (visible) light levels of illumination. By virtue of the short duration light pulse, adjustable to as short as two microseconds, image capture of very high speed events can be achieved at relatively low sample rates of less than 100 pictures per second, without image blur. For our initial investigations, we chose a ballistic subject. The results of early experimentation revealed the limitations of applying traditional ballistic imaging methods when using a pulsed infrared lightsource with a digital imaging system. These early disappointing results clarified the need to further identify the unique system characteristics of the digital imager and pulsed infrared combination. It was also necessary to investigate how the infrared reflectance and transmittance of common materials affects the imaging process. This experimental work yielded a surprising, successful methodology which will prove useful in imaging ballistic and weapons tests, as well as forensics, flow visualizations, spray pattern analyses, and nocturnal animal behavioral studies.

Paper Details

Date Published: 28 May 1997
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 2869, 22nd International Congress on High-Speed Photography and Photonics, (28 May 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.273377
Show Author Affiliations
Connie Jantzen, Photographic Analysis Co. (United States)
Rick Slagle, Oxford Lasers, Inc. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2869:
22nd International Congress on High-Speed Photography and Photonics
Dennis L. Paisley; ALan M. Frank, Editor(s)

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