Progress on superresolution cameras with 4 gigapixels and then 50 gigapixels and ultimately towards the physical limit of about 100 petapixels

The 1.5 gigapixel AWARE 10 camera, Triton, was completed in October 2013. A 4 gigapixel AWARE-10 is being completed and refined now. There is continuing research and work towards 10 gigapixel and 50 gigapixel cameras. Duke is working with DARPA on gigapixel cameras and eventually petapixel cameras.

What is the fundamental limit of pixel count? Assuming 10000 fps, 100 spectral channels and 10 focal range bins suggests 100 petapixels per second as a reasonable physical limit.

The monochromatic single frame pixel count of a camera is limited by diffraction to the space-bandwidth product, roughly the aperture area divided by the square of the wavelength. We have recently shown that it is possible to approach this limit using multiscale lenses for cameras with space bandwidth product between 1 and 100 gigapixels. When color, polarization, coherence and time are included in the image data cube, camera information capacity may exceed 1 petapixel/second. This talk reviews progress in the construction of DARPA AWARE gigapixel cameras and describes compressive measurement strategies that may be used in combination with multiscale systems to push camera capacity to near physical limits.

A major advantage of this design is that it can be scaled. Except for slightly different surface curvatures, the same microcamera design suffices for 2, 10, and 40 gigapixel systems. FOV is also strictly a matter of adding more cameras, with no change in the objective lens or micro-optic design.

Gigapixel cameras using lens arrays can contain hundreds to thousands of precisely positioned optical components and thus require fast, reliable methods for optical assembly and alignment verification. Our first one-gigapixel prototype camera (AWARE-2) and our four-gigapixel camera currently under development (AWARE-10) need active alignment and performance measurement procedures during assembly to ensure high quality images. Here we describe the methods that we have developed to ensure proper positioning of all optical components in the AWARE-10 system and the resulting optomechanical design decisions. AWARE cameras employ a single monocentric objective lens that is shared by an array of smaller ”micro-cameras”, each composed of a set of smaller scale lenses. In AWARE-10, approximately two thousand pieces of individual optics must be aligned to a high level of accuracy in order to attain the desired optical resolution over four gigapixels. To guarantee proper alignment before final assembly, the objective lens and the micro-optics are checked separately. Using tools including auto-stigmatic microscopy, slanted edge MTF measurements, and flat field measurements, we can confirm the correct alignment of individual components before assembly. Optomechanical designs that incorporate the application of these alignment tools are described.

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