Symmetrical phase-only filtering (SPOF) can be exploited to obtain substantial improvements in the results of data processing in particle- image velocimetry (PIV). In comparison with traditional PIV data processing, SPOF PIV data processing yields narrower and larger amplitude correlation peaks, thereby providing more-accurate velocity estimates. The higher signal-to-noise ratios associated with the higher amplitude correlation peaks afford greater robustness and reliability of processing. SPOF also affords superior performance in the presence of surface flare light and/or background light. SPOF algorithms can readily be incorporated into pre-existing algorithms used to process digitized image data in PIV, without significantly increasing processing times.

A summary of PIV and traditional PIV data processing is prerequisite to a meaningful description of SPOF PIV processing. In PIV, a pulsed laser is used to illuminate a substantially planar region of a flowing fluid in which particles are entrained. An electronic camera records digital images of the particles at two instants of time. The components of velocity of the fluid in the illuminated plane can be obtained by determining the displacements of particles between the two illumination pulses.

The objective in PIV data processing is to compute the particle displacements from the digitital image data. In traditional PIV data processing, to which the present innovation applies, the two images are divided into a grid of subregions and the displacements determined from cross-correlations between the corresponding sub-regions in the first and second images. The cross-correlation process begins with the calculation of the Fourier transforms (or fast Fourier transforms) of the subregion portions of the images. The Fourier transforms from the corresponding subregions are multiplied, and this product is inverse Fourier transformed, yielding the cross-correlation intensity distribution.

The average displacement of the particles across a subregion results in a displacement of the correlation peak from the center of the correlation plane. The velocity is then computed from the displacement of the correlation peak and the time between the recording of the two images. The process as described thus far is performed for all the subregions. The resulting set of velocities in grid cells amounts to a velocity vector map of the flow field recorded on the image plane.

In traditional PIV processing, surface flare light and bright background light give rise to a large, broad correlation peak, at the center of the correlation plane, that can overwhelm the true particle-displacement correlation peak. This has made it necessary to resort to tedious image-masking and background-subtraction procedures to recover the relatively small amplitude particle-displacement correlation peak.

SPOF is a variant of phase-only filtering (POF), which, in turn, is a variant of matched spatial filtering (MSF). In MSF, one projects a first image (denoted the input image) onto a second image (denoted the filter) as part of a computation to determine how much and what part of the filter is present in the input image. MSF is equivalent to cross-correlation. In POF, the frequency-domain content of the MSF filter is modified to produce a unit- amplitude (phase-only) object. POF is implemented by normalizing the Fourier transform of the filter by its magnitude. The advantage of POFs is that they yield correlation peaks that are sharper and have higher signal- to-noise ratios than those obtained through traditional MSF. In the SPOF, these benefits of POF can be extended to PIV data processing. The SPOF yields even better performance than the POF approach, which is uniquely applicable to PIV type image data.

In SPOF as now applied to PIV data processing, a subregion of the first image is treated as the input image and the corresponding subregion of the second image is treated as the filter. The Fourier transforms from both the first- and second-image subregions are normalized by the square roots of their respective magnitudes. This scheme yields optimal performance because the amounts of normalization applied to the spatial-frequency contents of the input and filter scenes are just enough to enhance their high-spatial-frequency contents while reducing their spurious low-spatial- frequency content. As a result, in SPOF PIV processing, particle- displacement correlation peaks can readily be detected above spurious background peaks, without need for masking or background subtraction.

This work was done by Mark P. Wernet of Glenn Research Center.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to NASA Glenn Research Center, Innovative Partnerships Office, Attn: Steve Fedor, Mail Stop 4–8, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44135. Refer to LEW-17810-1.