Abstract

We address the problem of degree of polarization estimation in polarization diversity images. We consider active imaging techniques with laser illumination, which have the appealing feature of revealing contrasts that do not appear in conventional intensity images. These techniques provide two images of the same scene that are perturbed with speckle noise. Because of the presence of nonhomogeneity in the reflected intensity, it can be preferable to perform image analysis of the orthogonal-state contrast image, which is a measure of the degree of polarization of the reflected light when the coherency matrix is diagonal. It has been shown that a simple nonlinear transformation of this orthogonal-state contrast image leads to an image perturbed with additive symmetrical noise on which simple and efficient estimation and detection techniques can be applied. We propose to precisely analyze estimation properties of the degree of polarization using this natural representation. In particular, we determine the Cramer–Rao bound of the polarization degree estimation and the variance of the proposed estimator, and we study the estimator’s efficiency as a function of the speckle order for different measurement strategies.

© 2004 Optical Society of America

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