Rapid single-photon color imaging of moving objects

Dan Yao, Peter W. R. Connolly, Arran J. Sykes, Yash D. Shah, Claudio Accarino, James Grant, David R. S. Cumming, Gerald Stuart Buller, Stephen McLaughlin, Yoann Altmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Downloads (Pure)


This paper outlines an experimental demonstration of a Bayesian image reconstruction approach to achieve rapid single-photon color imaging of moving objects. The capacity to extract the color of objects is important in a variety of target identification and computer vision applications. Nonetheless, it remains challenging to achieve high-speed color imaging of moving objects in low-photon flux environments. The low-photon regime presents particular challenges for efficient spectral separation and identification, while unsupervised image reconstruction algorithms are often slow and computationally expensive. In this paper, we address both of these difficulties using a combination of hardware and computational solutions. We demonstrate color imaging using a Single-Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD) detector array for rapid, low-light-level data acquisition, with an integrated color filter array (CFA) for efficient spectral unmixing. High-speed image reconstruction is achieved using a bespoke Bayesian algorithm to produce high-fidelity color videos. The analysis is conducted first on simulated data allowing different pixel formats and photon flux scenarios to be investigated. Experiments are then performed using a plasmonic metasurface-based CFA, integrated with a 64 × 64 pixel format SPAD array. Passive imaging is conducted using white-light illumination of multi-colored, moving targets. Intensity information is recorded in a series of 2D photon-counting SPAD frames, from which accurate color information is extracted using the fast Bayesian method introduced herein. The per-frame reconstruction rate proves to be hundreds of times faster than the previous computational method. Furthermore, this approach yields additional information in the form of uncertainty measures, which can be used to assist with imaging system optimization and decision-making in real-world applications. The techniques demonstrated point the way towards rapid video-rate single-photon color imaging. The developed Bayesian algorithm, along with more advanced SPAD technology and utilization of time-correlated single-photon counting (TCSPC) will permit live 3D, color videography in extremely low-photon flux environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26610-26625
Number of pages16
JournalOptics Express
Issue number16
Early online date26 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Rapid single-photon color imaging of moving objects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this