Abstract

This paper contains a theoretical comparison of the performance of a single, optically multiplexed detector with a set of independent scanned detectors in the measurement of optical images in the signal-dominated regime. The difference between the uncorrelated counts received in two channels—one corresponding to the required signal, the other to the background only—is analyzed as the signal estimator. Correlated counts, where identical photodetections are added to each channel, do not affect the accuracy of the signal that is described in terms of a SNR. The theory is confirmed by detailed experimental measurements of signal and noise. The results show a multiplex power advantage over a single scanned detector in the photon-noise limit of 1/4R, where R is the ratio of the mean signal per element over the entire image to the signal in the element under consideration. Thus, for instance, for a bright star in a dark field a 100 × 100 multiplex system would be equivalent to 2500 parallel detectors.

© 1974 Optical Society of America

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