Imaging process spectroscopy for remote sensing

A group of researchers from Rice University develops a compact, optical fiber-based imaging process spectroscopy device that allows making remote sensing. The process spectrometer, called the Tunable Light-Guide Image Processing Snapshot Spectrometer (TuLIPSS), offers high spatial resolution and big amount of spectral data that can be transmitted to a detector immediately.

Moreover, the process spectroscopy device is compact-sized enough (600 × 150 × 150 mm) for its application aboard unmanned aerial vehicles, herewith, the researchers confirm that the developed process spectrometer could be made even smaller if it is necessary.

The principle of spectroscopy device operation is based on the ability of fiber optic bundles to transmit spatial and spectral data information to a special detector immediately. Then the information obtained during the process spectroscopy is processed for fast environmental or biological analysis.

To be more precise, the spectroscopy device enables to capture hyperspectral data information in a data cube without any process of scanning compared to other optical fiber systems that require scanning a scene line-by-line and collect the scene later.  The device has a special lens that focuses light onto an optical fiber bundle.

Such optical fibers are able to assemble more than 30,000 spatial samples and 61 spectral channels in the range of 450- to 750-nm, which are split by prisms into their component bands and passed on to a detector. Then, the detector of the process spectroscopy device delivers the data points to software that unites them into the required images or spectra.

The imaging spectroscopy device offers such an advantage as the possibility to change the size of the gaps in order to adjust the balance between spatial and spectral sampling to meet specific fiber optic application purposes. Generally, the most commercially available optical fibers suitable for the process of imaging spectroscopy have a diameter of 125 to 250 μm, which increase the size of the optical bundle.

It should be noted that the compact size of the spectroscopy device is achieved by the use of a commercially available multicore fiber optic ribbon in which each optical fiber has a 10-μm core. Also, the researchers demonstrate a rapid technique for assembling spectra from more than 30,000 fibers.

The current technique allows making the imaging spectroscopy less than five minutes to calibrate all the spatial samplings of the fiber optic system and requires the acquisition of only a few images.

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