You are here

Synthetic Aperture by Direct Print-down of Micro-lens Arrays on CMOS Imagers


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics 

OBJECTIVE: Design, develop, prototype and demonstrate the ability to form an array of wide field of micro-lenses that can be directly printed down on a Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) imager. These lenses can either be compound, Gradient Index (GRIN), Freeform, or other. The intent is use such an array in a light field optical configuration to yield a very thin, light camera package that is both fast and compact in size and weight. 

DESCRIPTION: The necessity for snipers, soldiers, and crew served weapons operators to rapidly and accurately detect targets on the battlefield is a capability that is of high interest to the department of defense, across all agencies. It is our desire to create a compact camera system that has a wide field of view as well as high resolution. Commercially we can find an exemplar in the Lytro approach. Other configurations can be found in “Spatio-Angular Resolution Tradeoff in Integral Photography” [T. Georgeiv et. al. Eurographics Symposium on Rendering, 2006). Any given micro-lens will have a very short focal length. We can make the focal length small robust if we form the lenses directly on the CMOS imager as suggested by Thiele et al. in Sci. Adv. 2017; 3:e1602655. The effective aperture is that of the array, It is expected that eventually these imagers/lens arrays will be further clustered to produce very large effective apertures. The clustered effective aperture need not be circular, but may be configured in such a way as to nest on a platform, such as a rifle. In such a case the aperture could wrap around the barrel, thus yielding not only a compact package, but one that would allow for passive ranging and three dimensional image reconstruction as well. 

PHASE I: Identify materials, methods and models integrated lens arrays that are compatible with CMOS imagers. Model the optical systems to ensure that the lenslet arrays will yield suitable image quality for later image reconstruction. 

PHASE II: Create an array on a CMOS imager. This imager should be functional and allow one to read out each of the sub-images. Transfer the readout into a computer and demonstrate that light field reconstruction is viable. Contractor shall clearly state in the proposal and final report how the phenomenology provides the unique capability for achieving the design goals. Make an array of the lenslet/CMOS imager modules and show that the subsampled synthetic aperture is functional. 

PHASE III: Optimize the physical properties for military applications. Prototype a rifle mounted fire control sight using this technology that demonstrates the benefits in performance over currently fielded systems. Replace conventional electro-optics with the design in a sight that represents the optical performance of a fielded military small arms sighting system. Test and report the results of the optical metrology/performance and weight savings. Create a partnership with industry to commercialize the technology and improve the manufacturability. The prototype will be TRL 4 at the end of phase III 


1: "Spatio-Angular Resolution Tradeoff in Integral Photography" [T. Georgeiv et. al. Eurographics Symposium on Rendering, 2006).

2:  Thiele et al. in Sci. Adv. 2017

3:  3:e1602655

KEYWORDS: Conformal Optics 

US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government