Measurement of the mutual coherence function of an incoherent infrared field with a gold nano-wire dipole antenna array

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The first direct measurement of the mutual coherence function of a spatially incoherent infrared beam was performed at 10.6 μm using a pair of infrared dipole nano-wire antennas that were connected to a common bolometer in the center of the pair by short lengths of coplanar strip transmission line. A spatially incoherent source was constructed by dithering a BaF2 diffuser near the focus of a CO2 laser beam. The distance from the diffuser to the nano-wire antenna pair was held constant while the distance from the focus of the laser beam to the diffuser was varied to control the effective diameter of the source. The measured bolometer signal was proportional to the magnitude of the mutual coherence function at the plane of the antennas. The experimental results were found to match the predicted performance closely. If this technology can be extended to large arrays, a form of synthetic aperture optical imaging based on the Van Cittert-Zernike theorem is possible, similar to that performed at microwave frequencies now by astronomers. This has the potential to greatly increase the angular resolution attainable with optical instruments.

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© 2008 Springer. Publisher's version of record: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10762-007-9307-8

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International Journal of Infrared and Millimeter Waves