Abstract

We propose and analyze a statistical method to estimate the degree of polarization of light from a single speckle intensity image by analyzing the statistical distribution of the light intensity. The optimal precision of such an estimation method is evaluated by computing the Cramer–Rao bounds for several speckle degrees. Two moment-based estimators of the square degree of polarization are introduced and characterized. For the first time to our knowledge, it is shown theoretically and through simulations that the estimators are almost efficient for high orders of speckle. The robustness of the method is discussed for the case when the intensity fluctuations do not follow the standard speckle model.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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