Solid state imaging devices have become the prevalent choice in the multi-billion dollar industry of digital photography. Consumer demands for high pixel count imaging sensors have set trends for small pixel pitch sensors, high signal-to-noise ratios, high dynamic range and better color replication of the imaged scene among others. These trends have resulted in proliferation of imaging sensors in our daily lives that capture two properties of light, namely the intensity and the wavelength, and encode this information into perceptual quantities of brightness and color. The third fundamental property of light, polarization, has been ignored by solid state imaging sensors partially due to the human inability to discriminate and see polarization information.
The research goal of our laboratory is to investigate and develop new generation of optical sensors capable of capturing the three properties of light with low power, low noise and high resolution imaging sensors. Polarization sensing is a center theme in our laboratory and we focus on several key aspects, including nanofabrication of optical filters, advanced CMOS imaging sensor design, monolithic integration of CMOS imaging technology with nano-structured optical filters, image processing algorithms for division of focal plane polarization imaging sensors and applying polarization imaging sensor for real-time imaging of natural phenomena.