Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical, Computer & Energy Engineering

First Advisor

Rafael Piestun

Second Advisor

Kelvin Wagner

Third Advisor

Gregory Beylkin


The joint application of tailored optical Point Spread Functions (PSF) and estimation methods is an important tool for designing quantitative imaging and sensing solutions. By enhancing the information transfer encoded by the optical waves into an image, matched post-processing algorithms are able to complete tasks with improved performance relative to conventional designs. In this thesis, new engineered PSF solutions with image processing algorithms are introduced and demonstrated for quantitative imaging using information-efficient signal processing tools and/or optical-efficient experimental implementations. The use of a 3D engineered PSF, the Double-Helix (DH-PSF), is applied as one solution for three-dimensional, super-resolution fluorescence microscopy. The DH-PSF is a tailored PSF which was engineered to have enhanced information transfer for the task of localizing point sources in three dimensions. Both an information- and optical-efficient implementation of the DH-PSF microscope are demonstrated here for the first time. This microscope is applied to image single-molecules and micro-tubules located within a biological sample. A joint imaging/axial-ranging modality is demonstrated for application to quantifying sources of extended transverse and axial extent. The proposed implementation has improved optical-efficiency relative to prior designs due to the use of serialized cycling through select engineered PSFs. This system is demonstrated for passive-ranging, extended Depth-of-Field imaging and digital refocusing of random objects under broadband illumination. Although the serialized engineered PSF solution is an improvement over prior designs for the joint imaging/passive-ranging modality, it requires the use of multiple PSFs - a potentially significant constraint. Therefore an alternative design is proposed, the Single-Helix PSF, where only one engineered PSF is necessary and the chromatic behavior of objects under broadband illumination provides the necessary information transfer. The matched estimation algorithms are introduced along with an optically-efficient experimental system to image and passively estimate the distance to a test object. An engineered PSF solution is proposed for improving the sensitivity of optical wave-front sensing using a Shack-Hartmann Wave-front Sensor (SHWFS). The performance limits of the classical SHWFS design are evaluated and the engineered PSF system design is demonstrated to enhance performance. This system is fabricated and the mechanism for additional information transfer is identified.