Dongeek Shin, Feihu Xu, Dheera Venkatraman, Rudi Lussana, Federica Villa, Franco Zappa, Vivek K. Goyal, Franco N. C. Wong, and Jeffrey H. Shapiro
Reconstructing a scene’s 3D structure and reflectivity accurately with an active imaging system operating in low-light-level conditions has wide-ranging applications, spanning biological imaging to remote sensing. Here we propose and experimentally demonstrate a depth and reflectivity imaging system with a single-photon camera that generates high-quality images from ~1 detected signal photon per pixel. Previous achievements of similar photon efficiency have been with conventional raster-scanning data collection using single-pixel photon counters capable of ~10-ps time tagging. In contrast, our camera’s detector array requires highly parallelized time-to-digital conversions with photon time-tagging accuracy limited to ~ns. Thus, we develop an array-specific algorithm that converts coarsely time-binned photon detections to highly accurate scene depth and reflectivity by exploiting both the transverse smoothness and longitudinal sparsity of natural scenes. By overcoming the coarse time resolution of the array, our framework uniquely achieves high photon efficiency in a relatively short acquisition time.