Abstract

We have investigated the noise characteristics and the low-light-level imaging capabilities of a stimulated Raman amplifier. Diffraction-limited Stokes beams as well as Stokes beams carrying spatial structure have been amplified with a collimated pump with a Fresnel number in the range 3–17. Both direct imaging and Fourier-transform imaging of the Stokes signal through the Raman amplifier were used. Results indicate that approximately 1–4 photons per spatial mode are needed to produce images with a signal-to-noise ratio of 1. Amplification of the Fourier transform of the object effectively provides spatial filtering of the noise and gives the best signal-to-noise ratio at the lowest input levels for our experiments.

© 1992 Optical Society of America

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