In an optical imaging sensor (i.e., lens plus focal plane array), the critical output is the image itself, and quality of that image is a measure of the sensor’s performance. Image quality is dependent on several terms such as the sensor-level point-spread function (PSF), sampling period, and signal-to-noise ratio. The sensor resolution is mainly dependent on the PSF, which is comprised of many aspects. Often, the resolution is determined by the diffraction-limited Rayleigh criterion; however, due to the blur contributions of the collecting optics wavefront errors, pixel size, etc., the sensor PSF is not often diffraction-limited. Here, we develop two simple back-of-the-envelope calculations that provide an estimate of a nondiffraction-limited imaging sensor PSF size based on the sensor-level required resolution. Moreover, an allocation based on this PSF size can be used to dole out an allotment to the various blur effects, e.g., wavefront error, during sensor-level design.
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