Recovery of surface orientation from diffuse polarization
Atkinson, G. (2006) Recovery of surface orientation from diffuse polarization. IEEE Transactions on Image Processing, 15 (6). pp. 1653-1664.
Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/TIP.2006.871114
When unpolarized light is reflected from a smooth dielectric surface, it becomes partially polarized. This is due to the orientation of dipoles induced in the reflecting medium and applies to both specular and diffuse reflection. This paper is concerned with exploiting polarization by surface reflection, using images of smooth dielectric objects, to recover surface normals and hence height. The paper presents the underlying physics of polarization by reflection, starting with the Fresnel equations. These equations are used to interpret images taken with a linear polarizer and digital camera, revealing the shape of the objects. Experimental results are presented that illustrate that the technique is accurate near object limbs, as the theory predicts, with less precise, but still useful, results elsewhere. A detailed analysis of the accuracy of the technique for a variety of materials is presented. A method for estimating refractive indices using a laser and linear polarizer is also given.
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