SBIR Phase I: Innovative Design and Fabrication of Subwavelength Optical Polarimetry Array (SOPA) for Polarization Enhanced Imaging
This SBIR Phase I project is to fabricate subwavelength optical polarimetery array (SOPA) for polarization enhanced imaging using nanofabrication technology based on nanoimprint lithography. Polarization imaging will not only enhance imaging quality such as contrast, but also reveal chemical property of objectives by detecting polarization dependent reflections or absorptions. SOPA delivers a novel way to build polarimetry imager with very low cost and fast response. Polarimetry imager can be built either by placing a SOPA chip in front of an imaging chip or fabricating SOAP above imaging pixel array on the same chip. In SOPA, each pixel in a 2D array has sub-pixels of subwavelenth polarizers and waveplate in front of photodetectors to detect different polarizations. These subwavelength optical elements can be fabricated monolithically into a large array and are very thin (200 nm - 300 nm thick). Since all pixel photodetectors using SOPA detect the incident light simultaneously and with a submicrosecond speed, polarimetry imaging is obtained very fast. Polarimetry imagers with SOPA have many unique features and superb performances that are unattainable with the other existing polarimetry imagers, including fast, wide wavelength range (from UV to far IR), low manufacturing cost, and onchip integration compatiblity. SOPA can be used to enhance performance of various types of optical imagers from infrared to visible. Its market impact covers many imager applications, such as CMOS camera, night vision, fast imaging detection and spectrum analysis for objective recognition. Chemical or bio-material detection and space telescope are additional applications. Since SOPA technology enables fast polarimetry imaging at low cost, imager with SOPA chip can go into fields that previously could not afford the high cost of polarimetry imaging. These fields include objective recognition for security surveillance, car-collision warning, and, especially important, portable or handheld noncontact chemical/bio-hazard detector for homeland security.
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