High-Resolution Solar Imaging With Photon Sieves

Friday, 19 December 2014
Figen S. Oktem1, Farzad Kamalabadi1 and Joseph M Davila2, (1)University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Urbana, IL, United States, (2)NASA Goddard SFC, Greenbelt, MD, United States
A photon sieve is a modification of a Fresnel zone plate in which open zones are replaced by a large number of circular holes. This lightweight optical device offers a superior image forming capability compared with the Fresnel zone plate, and is specially suited to observations at UV and x-ray wavelengths where refractive lenses are not available due to strong absorption of materials, and reflective mirrors are difficult to manufacture to achieve near diffraction-limited resolution. At these shorter wavelengths, photon sieves enable diffraction-limited imaging performance with relaxed manufacturing tolerances, and simple and low-cost fabrication.

In this work, we present a new photon sieve imaging modality that, unlike previous designs, takes advantage of chromatic aberration. The fact that different wavelengths are focused at different distances from photon sieve is exploited to develop a novel multi-spectral imaging technique. The idea is to use a photon sieve imaging system with a moving detector which records images at different planes. Each measurement consists of superimposed images of different wavelengths, with each individual image being either in focus or out of focus. For spatially incoherent illumination, we study the problem of recovering the individual images from these superimposed measurements. We first formulate the discrete forward problem using the closed-form Fresnel imaging formulas. The inverse problem is then a multi-frame deconvolution problem involving multiple objects, and is formulated as a maximum posterior estimation problem. The resulting nonlinear optimization problem is solved using a fixed-point iterative algorithm. In contrast to traditional spectral imagers employing a series of wavelength filters, the proposed technique relies on a simple optical system, but incorporates powerful image processing methods to form spectral images computationally. In addition to diffraction-limited high spatial resolution enabled by photon sieves, this technique can also achieve higher spectral resolution than the conventional spectral imagers, since the technique offers the possibility of separating nearby spectral components that would not otherwise be possible using wavelength filters. These promising aspects are illustrated for solar EUV spectral imaging.