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24 October 2012 Automated optical testing of LWIR objective lenses using focal plane array sensors
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Abstract
The image quality of today's state-of-the-art IR objective lenses is constantly improving while at the same time the market for thermography and vision grows strongly. Because of increasing demands on the quality of IR optics and increasing production volumes, the standards for image quality testing increase and tests need to be performed in shorter time. Most high-precision MTF testing equipment for the IR spectral bands in use today relies on the scanning slit method that scans a 1D detector over a pattern in the image generated by the lens under test, followed by image analysis to extract performance parameters. The disadvantages of this approach are that it is relatively slow, it requires highly trained operators for aligning the sample and the number of parameters that can be extracted is limited. In this paper we present lessons learned from the R and D process on using focal plane array (FPA) sensors for testing of long-wave IR (LWIR, 8-12 m) optics. Factors that need to be taken into account when switching from scanning slit to FPAs are e.g.: the thermal background from the environment, the low scene contrast in the LWIR, the need for advanced image processing algorithms to pre-process camera images for analysis and camera artifacts. Finally, we discuss 2 measurement systems for LWIR lens characterization that we recently developed with different target applications: 1) A fully automated system suitable for production testing and metrology that uses uncooled microbolometer cameras to automatically measure MTF (on-axis and at several o-axis positions) and parameters like EFL, FFL, autofocus curves, image plane tilt, etc. for LWIR objectives with an EFL between 1 and 12mm. The measurement cycle time for one sample is typically between 6 and 8s. 2) A high-precision research-grade system using again an uncooled LWIR camera as detector, that is very simple to align and operate. A wide range of lens parameters (MTF, EFL, astigmatism, distortion, etc.) can be easily and accurately measured with this system.
© (2012) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Daniel Winters, Patrik Erichsen, Christian Domagalski, Frank Peter, Josef Heinisch, and Eugen Dumitrescu "Automated optical testing of LWIR objective lenses using focal plane array sensors", Proc. SPIE 8541, Electro-Optical and Infrared Systems: Technology and Applications IX, 854105 (24 October 2012); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.974957
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