What are the key components of a hyperspectral system?

The Camera

At the heart of a hyperspectral system is the spectral camera. A spectral camera combines optical spectroscopy with digital image processing. The spectral camera consists of a 2-dimensional array detector, such as a CCD or CMOS camera, that is mounted to an imaging spectrograph. In a push-broom configuration, the sample is illuminated in a line across the spatial axis (y-axis) of the detector. Each line on the spatial axis contains the full spectrum from the spectral axis (x-axis). The hyperspectral data-cube is built line by line over a given set of exposures.

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  The Lens

The next key component is having the proper lens for the spectral camera. A high quality lens is very important. Careful attention to the following specifications will ensure best performance from the spectral camera.

  1. MTF – Modulation Transfer Function – helps to obtain the best contrast and brightness of the original image.
  2. Spectral range – spectral cameras are available in many different wavelength regions. These include Visible, VNIR, NIR, SWIR, MWIR,  and LWIR. The lens needs to be optimized for the appropriate spectral range.
  3. Spatial uniformity of throughput – making sure the lens aperture is large enough to match the camera sensor.
  4. F-Number - The lens needs to match the light collection capability of the spectrograph. If the lens has too low of an F-number, it can overfill the slit causing increased stray light; if the f-number is too high, it will become the limiting factor for the throughput of the system.
  5. Focal length of the objective lens – determines the size of the object and angle of view.

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 The Scanner

Push-broom hyperspectral imaging systems require that the sample be scanned when acquiring the data. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. You can move the camera to scan the sample. Some examples of this would be mounting the scanner in an aircraft or having a pan and tilt system. The sample can also be moved in front of the spectral camera. The most common way of doing this is by using a scanner or stage to move the sample.

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 The Illumination

Broadband light sources are typically used in hyperspectral systems. It is important to use an efficient light source that is uniform over the desired spectral range. As was noted earlier, there are a number of spectral camera options optimized for different areas of the electromagnetic spectrum; matching the correct illumination source for the wavelength range is critical.

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