Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A study of the feasibility and performance of an active/passive imager using silicon focal plane arrays and incoherent continuous wave laser diodes
by Vollmerhausen, Richard H., Ph.D., University of Delaware, 2013, 151; 3598763
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation describes an active/passive imager (API) that provides reliable, nighttime, target acquisition in a man-portable package with effective visual range of about 4 kilometers. The reflective imagery is easier to interpret than currently used thermal imagery. Also, in the active mode, the API provides performance equivalent to the big-aperture, thermal systems used on weapons platforms like tanks and attack helicopters. This dissertation describes the research needed to demonstrate both the feasibility and utility of the API.

Part of the research describes implementation of a silicon focal plane array (SFPA) capable of both active and passive imaging. The passive imaging mode exceeds the nighttime performance of currently fielded, man-portable sensors. Further, when scene illumination is insufficient for passive imaging, the low dark current of SFPA makes it possible to use continuous wave laser diodes (CWLD) to add an active imaging mode. CWLD have advantages of size, efficiency, and improved eye safety when compared to high peak-power diodes. Because of the improved eye safety, the API provides user-demanded features like video output and extended range gates in the active as well as passive imaging modes.

Like any other night vision device, the API depends on natural illumination of the scene for passive operation. Although it has been known for decades that "starlight" illumination is actually from diffuse airglow emissions, the research described in this dissertation provides the first estimates of the global and temporal variation of ground illumination due to airglow.

A third related element of the current research establishes the impact of atmospheric aerosols on API performance. We know from day experience that atmospheric scattering of sunlight into the imager line-of-sight can blind the imager and drastically degrade performance. Atmospheric scattering of sunlight is extensively covered in the literature. However, previous literature did not cover the impact of atmospheric scattering when the target is diffusely illuminated by airglow.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mirotznik, Mark
Commitee: Barner, Kenneth E., Driggers, Ronald, Prather, Dennis, Reago, Donald
School: University of Delaware
Department: Electrical and Computer Engineering
School Location: United States -- Delaware
Source: DAI-B 75/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Electrical engineering, Remote sensing
Keywords: Active imaging, Focal plane arrays, Laser diodes, Night illumination, Night vision, Passive imaging, Target acquisition
Publication Number: 3598763
ISBN: 9781303475894
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