Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering


Christopher Middlebrook


Personal electronic devices, such as cell phones and tablets, continue to decrease in size while the number of features and add-ons keep increasing. One particular feature of great interest is an integrated projector system. Laser pico-projectors have been considered, but the technology has not been developed enough to warrant integration. With new advancements in diode technology and MEMS devices, laser-based projection is currently being advanced for pico-projectors. A primary problem encountered when using a pico-projector is coherent interference known as speckle. Laser speckle can lead to eye irritation and headaches after prolonged viewing. Diffractive optical elements known as diffusers have been examined as a means to lower speckle contrast. Diffusers are often rotated to achieve temporal averaging of the spatial phase pattern provided by diffuser surface. While diffusers are unable to completely eliminate speckle, they can be utilized to decrease the resultant contrast to provide a more visually acceptable image.

This dissertation measures the reduction in speckle contrast achievable through the use of diffractive diffusers. A theoretical Fourier optics model is used to provide the diffuser’s stationary and in-motion performance in terms of the resultant contrast level. Contrast measurements of two diffractive diffusers are calculated theoretically and compared with experimental results. In addition, a novel binary diffuser design based on Hadamard matrices will be presented. Using two static in-line Hadamard diffusers eliminates the need for rotation or vibration of the diffuser for temporal averaging. Two Hadamard diffusers were fabricated and contrast values were subsequently measured, showing good agreement with theory and simulated values. Monochromatic speckle contrast values of 0.40 were achieved using the Hadamard diffusers.

Finally, color laser projection devices require the use of red, green, and blue laser sources; therefore, using a monochromatic diffractive diffuser may not optimal for color speckle contrast reduction. A simulation of the Hadamard diffusers is conducted to determine the optimum spacing between the two diffusers for polychromatic speckle reduction. Experimental measured results are presented using the optimal spacing of Hadamard diffusers for RGB color speckle reduction, showing 60% reduction in contrast.