Photonics Research, Volume. 10, Issue 7, 07001624(2022)

Synthetic aperture ptychography: coded sensor translation for joint spatial-Fourier bandwidth expansion

Pengming Song1,†, Shaowei Jiang1,†, Tianbo Wang, Chengfei Guo, Ruihai Wang, Terrance Zhang, and Guoan Zheng*
Author Affiliations
  • Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06269, USA
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    Conventional ptychography translates an object through a localized probe beam to widen the field of view in real space. Fourier ptychography translates the object spectrum through a pupil aperture to expand the Fourier bandwidth in reciprocal space. Here we report an imaging modality, termed synthetic aperture ptychography (SAP), to get the best of both techniques. In SAP, we illuminate a stationary object using an extended plane wave and translate a coded image sensor at the far field for data acquisition. The coded layer attached on the sensor modulates the object exit waves and serves as an effective ptychographic probe for phase retrieval. The sensor translation process in SAP synthesizes a large complex-valued wavefront at the intermediate aperture plane. By propagating this wavefront back to the object plane, we can widen the field of view in real space and expand the Fourier bandwidth in reciprocal space simultaneously. We validate the SAP approach with transmission targets and reflection silicon microchips. A 20-mm aperture was synthesized using a 5-mm sensor, achieving a fourfold gain in resolution and 16-fold gain in field of view for object recovery. In addition, the thin sample requirement in ptychography is no longer required in SAP. One can digitally propagate the recovered exit wave to any axial position for post-acquisition refocusing. The SAP scheme offers a solution for far-field sub-diffraction imaging without using lenses. It can be adopted in coherent diffraction imaging setups with radiation sources from visible light, extreme ultraviolet, and X-ray, to electron.


    Ptychography is a coherent diffraction imaging (CDI) technique that has grown rapidly in the past years [1,2]. The original concept was developed to address the missing phase challenge in crystallography [3]. By translating a narrow coherent probe beam on a crystalline specimen, it aspires to extract the phase of Bragg peaks from far-field diffraction patterns. The modern form of this technique was brought to fruition by adopting an iterative phase retrieval framework [4]. Experiment procedures remain the same, where a specimen is laterally translated through a spatially confined probe beam and the diffraction patterns are recorded at the far field. Using the phase retrieval framework, the reconstruction process iteratively imposes two different constraints during the object scanning process: first, the diffraction measurements serve as the Fourier magnitude constraints in reciprocal space; second, the confined probe beam limits the physical extent of the object for each measurement and serves as the support constraint in real space. Ptychography requires no imaging optics downstream of a specimen under investigation. It inherently generates both intensity and phase contrast for quantitative investigation of material properties—a capability that many competing imaging modalities lack. The data redundancy of ptychography further allows it to recover other important system information, including the illumination probe beam [58], multiple coherent modes of the probe beam or the object [9], images at different spectral channels [1012], multiple depth sections of a 3D object [13], diffraction data beyond the detector size [14], and orthogonal modes of an unstable illumination beam [15], among others. In the past decade, lensless ptychography has captured widespread interest from different imaging communities. In the field of biomedical imaging, it has been demonstrated for optofluidic flow-cytometer screening [16], urine sediment testing [17], blood analysis [17,18], malaria parasite screening [19], high-throughput digital pathology [19], antibiotic susceptibility testing [20], microbial limit testing [20], and large-scale yeast cell culture monitoring [21], among others. In the field of X-ray optics and extreme ultraviolet (EUV) imaging, it has become an indispensable modality in most synchrotrons and national laboratories worldwide [22,23]. Given that the brightness of coherent X-ray sources is expected to increase by orders of magnitude in the coming years, lensless ptychography has a promising future in imaging different non-crystalline structures on an atomic scale.


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    Pengming Song, Shaowei Jiang, Tianbo Wang, Chengfei Guo, Ruihai Wang, Terrance Zhang, Guoan Zheng. Synthetic aperture ptychography: coded sensor translation for joint spatial-Fourier bandwidth expansion[J]. Photonics Research, 2022, 10(7): 07001624

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    Paper Information

    Category: Imaging Systems, Microscopy, and Displays

    Received: Apr. 7, 2022

    Accepted: May. 15, 2022

    Published Online: Jun. 20, 2022

    The Author Email: Guoan Zheng (



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