IR performance study of an adaptive coded aperture "diffractive imaging" system employing MEMS "eyelid shutter" technologies


Adaptive coded aperture sensing is an emerging technology enabling real time, wide-area IR/visible sensing and imaging. Exploiting unique imaging architectures, adaptive coded aperture sensors achieve wide field of view, near-instantaneous optical path repositioning, and high resolution while reducing weight, power consumption and cost of air- and space born sensors. Such sensors may be used for military, civilian, or commercial applications in all optical bands but there is special interest in diffraction imaging sensors for IR applications. Extension of coded apertures from Visible to the MWIR introduces the effects of diffraction and other distortions not observed in shorter wavelength systems. A new approach is being developed under the DARPA/SPO funded LACOSTE (Large Area Coverage Optical search-while Track and Engage) program, that addresses the effects of diffraction while gaining the benefits of coded apertures, thus providing flexibility to vary resolution, possess sufficient light gathering power, and achieve a wide field of view (WFOV). The photonic MEMS-Eyelid "sub-aperture" array technology is currently being instantiated in this DARPA program to be the heart of conducting the flow (heartbeat) of the incoming signal. However, packaging and scalability are critical factors for the MEMS "sub-aperture"" technology which will determine system efficacy as well as military and commercial usefulness. As larger arrays with 1,000,000+ sub-apertures are produced for this LACOSTE effort, the available Degrees of Freedom (DOF) will enable better spatial resolution, control and refinement on the coding for the system. Studies (SNR simulations) will be performed (based on the Adaptive Coded Aperture algorithm implementation) to determine the efficacy of this diffractive MEMS approach and to determine the available system budget based on simulated bi-static shutter-element DOF degradation (1 %, 5%, 10%, 20%, etc.) trials until the degradation level where it is perceived to necessitate component replacement. System performance impacts, from DOF degradation, will manifest in a spatially random method.