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Noise creates polarization artefacts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number015005
Number of pages12
JournalBioinspiration and Biomimetics
Issue number1
Early online date28 Dec 2017
DateAccepted/In press - 29 Nov 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 28 Dec 2017
DatePublished (current) - Jan 2018


The accuracy of calculations of both the degree and angle of polarization depend strongly on the noise in the measurements used. The noise in the measurements recorded by both camera based systems and spectrometers can lead to significant artefacts and incorrect conclusions about high degrees of polarization when in fact none exist. Three approaches are taken in this work: Firstly, the absolute error introduced as a function of the signal to noise ratio for polarization measurements is quantified in detail. An important finding here is the reason for why several studies incorrectly suggest that black (low reflectivity) objects are highly polarized. The high degree of polarization is only an artefact of the noise in the calculation. Secondly, several simple
steps to avoid such errors are suggested. Thirdly, if these points can’t be followed, two methods are presented for mitigating the effects of noise: a maximum likelihood estimation method and a new denoising algorithm to best calculate the degree of polarization of natural polarization information.

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