Polarimetric spatio-temporal light transport probing

Seung Hwan Baek, Felix Heide

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Light emitted from a source into a scene can undergo complex interactions with multiple scene surfaces of different material types before being reflected towards a detector. During this transport, every surface reflection and propagation is encoded in the properties of the photons that ultimately reach the detector, including travel time, direction, intensity, wavelength and polarization. Conventional imaging systems capture intensity by integrating over all other dimensions of the incident light into a single quantity, hiding this rich scene information in these aggregate measurements. Existing methods are capable of untangling these measurements into their spatial and temporal dimensions, fueling geometric scene understanding tasks. However, examining polarimetric material properties jointly with geometric properties is an open challenge that could enable unprecedented capabilities beyond geometric scene understanding, allowing for material-dependent scene understanding and imaging through complex transport, such as macroscopic scattering. In this work, we close this gap, and propose a computational light transport imaging method that captures the spatially- and temporally-resolved complete polarimetric response of a scene, which encodes rich material properties. Our method hinges on a novel 7D tensor theory of light transport. We discover low-rank structure in the polarimetric tensor dimension and propose a data-driven rotating ellipsometry method that learns to exploit redundancy of polarimetric structure. We instantiate our theory with two imaging prototypes: spatio-polarimetric imaging and coaxial temporal-polarimetric imaging. This allows us, for the first time, to decompose scene light transport into temporal, spatial, and complete polarimetric dimensions that unveil scene properties hidden to conventional methods. We validate the applicability of our method on diverse tasks, including shape reconstruction with subsurface scattering, seeing through scattering media, untangling multi-bounce light transport, breaking metamerism with polarization, and spatio-polarimetric decomposition of crystals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3480517
JournalACM Transactions on Graphics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 10 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


  • polarimetric imaging
  • transient imaging


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