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Opt Express. 2013 Mar 11;21(5):5974-87. doi: 10.1364/OE.21.005974.

Dark-field microscopic image stitching method for surface defects evaluation of large fine optics.

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State Key Laboratory of Modern Optical Instrumentation, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310027,


One of the challenges in surface defects evaluation of large fine optics is to detect defects of microns on surfaces of tens or hundreds of millimeters. Sub-aperture scanning and stitching is considered to be a practical and efficient method. But since there are usually few defects on the large aperture fine optics, resulting in no defects or only one run-through line feature in many sub-aperture images, traditional stitching methods encounter with mismatch problem. In this paper, a feature-based multi-cycle image stitching algorithm is proposed to solve the problem. The overlapping areas of sub-apertures are categorized based on the features they contain. Different types of overlapping areas are then stitched in different cycles with different methods. The stitching trace is changed to follow the one that determined by the features. The whole stitching procedure is a region-growing like process. Sub-aperture blocks grow bigger after each cycle and finally the full aperture image is obtained. Comparison experiment shows that the proposed method is very suitable to stitch sub-apertures that very few feature information exists in the overlapping areas and can stitch the dark-field microscopic sub-aperture images very well.

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