SPAD Imagers at High Illumination

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article... publishes University of Wisconsin-Madison 27-page long paper "High Flux Passive Imaging with Single-Photon Sensors" by Atul Ingle, Andreas Velten, and Mohit Gupta.

"We propose passive free-running SPAD (PF-SPAD) imaging, an imaging modality that uses SPADs for capturing 2D intensity images with unprecedented dynamic range under ambient lighting, without any active light source. Our key observation is that the precise inter-photon timing measured by a SPAD can be used for estimating scene brightness under ambient lighting conditions, even for very bright scenes. We develop a theoretical model for PF-SPAD imaging, and derive a scene brightness estimator based on the average time of darkness between successive photons detected by a PF-SPAD pixel. Our key insight is that due to the stochastic nature of photon arrivals, this estimator does not suffer from a hard saturation limit. Coupled with high sensitivity at low flux, this enables a PF-SPAD pixel to measure a wide range of scene brightness, from very low to very high, thereby achieving extreme dynamic range. We demonstrate an improvement of over 2 orders of magnitude over conventional sensors by imaging scenes spanning a dynamic range of 10^6:1."

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