A new camera by researchers from MIT, captures images in almost complete darkness. Imagers that use their own illumination can capture 3D structure and reflectivity information. Image © Ahmed Kirmani/MIT
The researchers are using photon-counting detectors, so that imagers can be acquired at extremely low photon fluxes.
The achievement could result in spy cameras, or treat eyes that are damaged by excess light.
To suppress the Poisson noise inherent in low-flux operation, such imagers typically require hundreds of detected photons per pixel for accurate range and reflectivity determination. We introduce a low-flux imaging technique, called first-photon imaging, which is a computational imager that exploits spatial correlations found in real-world scenes and the physics of low-flux measurements. Our technique recovers 3D structure and reflectivity from the first detected photon at each pixel.