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Diffraction and photometric limits in today's miniature digital camera systems

: Brückner, Andreas; Schöberl, Michael


Piyawattanametha, W. ; Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers -SPIE-, Bellingham/Wash.:
MOEMS and Miniaturized Systems XII : 2.-7.2.2013, San Francisco, CA, USA
Bellingham, WA: SPIE, 2013 (Proceedings of SPIE 8616)
ISBN: 978-0-8194-9385-9
Paper 861617
Conference "MOEMS and Miniaturized Systems" <12, 2013, San Francisco/Calif.>
Fraunhofer IOF ()
Fraunhofer IIS ()
imaging; imaging system; miniature digital cameras; microoptics; wafer-level optics; image sensor; pixel size; scaling limit; diffraction; photon shot noise; photometry

Image sensors for digital cameras are built with ever decreasing pixel sizes. The size of the pixels seems to be limited by technology only. However, there are also hard theoretical limits for classical miniature camera systems: During a certain exposure time only a certain number of photons will reach the sensor. The resulting shot noise thus limits the signal-to-noise ratio. On the other hand, diffraction sets another limit for image resolution in case that there is enough brightness in the scene. In this work we show that current sensors are already surprisingly close to these limits.