Reinventing the camera


The workshop for the Microsystems Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), 'Camera Ab Initio', in April, 2003 challenged the attendees to rethink the architecture of a camera, or an imaging sensor. The workshop resulted in the MONTAGE (Multiple Nonredundant Optical Aperture generalized Imager) project, through which DARPA has successfully demonstrated that thin imaging systems based on multichannel and folded path optics could produce high-quality images. The project was based on two principles, imaging systems are inherently low-pass filters with spatial bandwidth proportional to the extent of the aperture, and optical power collection efficiency is proportional to aperture area. Ideal design strategies will integrate MONTAGE optics with co-designed focal planes and read-out circuits. MONTAGE has focused nearly exclusively on joint optimization of optical systems and computational post-processing.