Researchers at the Laboratoire Charles Fabry of the Institut d’Optique Graduate School and Thales demonstrate a joint digital-optical design of complex lenses for an imaging system with digital post-processing. The significance of the work surpasses the optical design and enables flexibility for the system designer. The joint design effectively relaxes the requirements on the optical system by incorporating a surrogate image quality criterion that captures the added value of the digital processing in the imaging pipeline. The relaxation provides significant system improvements without compromising performance. The surrogate image quality replaces the rigorous mean-square-error-based image quality with criteria that model the requirements and improvements of the image processing algorithms. This formulation allows joint design implementation using classical optical design software and the conveniences of the optimization algorithms that they provide. The approach is used to design a very fast (F/0.75) near infrared lens for night vision goggles and the resulting design is superior to the lens design using the classical approach. This work is an outstanding example of system-centric component design.
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