Liquid crystal hyperspectral imager
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Hyperspectral imaging is the collection, processing and analysis of spectral data in numerous contiguous wavelength bands while also providing spatial context. Some of the commonly used instruments for hyperspectral imaging are pushbroom scanning imaging systems, grating based imaging spectrometers and more recently electronically tunable filters. Electronically tunable filters offer the advantages of compactness and absence of mechanically movable parts. Electronically tunable filters have the ability to rapidly switch between wavelengths and provide spatial and spectral information over a large wavelength range. They involve the use of materials whose response to light can be altered in the presence of an external stimulus. While these filters offer some unique advantages, they also present some equally unique challenges. This research work involves the design and development of a multichannel imaging system using electronically tunable Liquid Crystal Fabry-Perot etalons. This instrument is called the Liquid Crystal Hyperspectral Imager (LiCHI). LiCHI images four spectral regions simultaneously and presents a trade-off between spatial and spectral domains. This simultaneity of measurements in multiple wavelengths can be exploited for dynamic and ephemeral events. LiCHI was initially designed for multispectral imaging of space plasmas but its versatility was demonstrated by testing in the field for multiple applications including landscape analysis and anomaly detection. The results obtained after testing of this instrument and analysis of the images are promising and demonstrate LiCHI as a good candidate for hyperspectral imaging. The challenges posed by LiCHI for each of these applications have also been explored.