Super-resolution thermographic imaging using blind structured illumination

Publication, 2017


P. Burgholzer, T. Berer, J. Gruber, G. Mayr - Super-resolution thermographic imaging using blind structured illumination - Applied Physics Letters, 2017, pp. 5


Using an infrared camera for thermographic imaging allows the contactless temperature measurement of many surface pixels simultaneously. From the measured surface data, the structure below the surface, embedded inside a sample or tissue, can be reconstructed and imaged, if heated by an excitation light pulse. The main drawback in active thermographic imaging is the degradation of the spatial resolution with the imaging depth, which results in blurred images for deeper lying structures. We circumvent this degradation by using blind structured illumination combined with a non-linear joint sparsity reconstruction algorithm. We demonstrate imaging of a line pattern and a star-shaped structure through a 3 mm thick steel sheet with a resolution four times better than the width of the thermal point-spread-function. The structured illumination is realized by parallel slits cut in an aluminum foil, where the excitation coming from a flashlight can penetrate. This realization of super-resolution thermographic imaging demonstrates that blind structured illumination allows thermographic imaging without high degradation of the spatial resolution for deeper lying structures. The groundbreaking concept of super-resolution can be transferred from optics to diffusive imaging by defining a thermal point-spread-function, which gives the principle resolution limit for a certain signal-to-noise ratio, similar to the Abbe limit for a certain optical wavelength. In future work, the unknown illumination pattern could be the speckle pattern generated by a short laser pulse inside a light scattering sample or tissue.