Background-oriented schlieren is a method of visualizing refractive disturbances by comparing digital images with and without a refractive disturbance distorting a background pattern. Traditionally, backgrounds consist of random distributions of high-contrast color transitions or speckle patterns. To image a refractive disturbance, a digital image correlation algorithm is used to identify the location and magnitude of apparent pixel shifts in the background pattern between the two images. Here, a novel method of using color gradient backgrounds is explored as an alternative that eliminates the need to perform a complex image correlation between the digital images. A simple image subtraction can be used instead to identify the location, magnitude, and direction of the image distortions. Gradient backgrounds are demonstrated to provide quantitative data only limited by the camera’s pixel resolution, whereas speckle backgrounds limit resolution to the size of the random pattern features and image correlation window size. Quantitative measurement of density in a thermal boundary layer is presented. Two-dimensional gradient backgrounds using multiple colors are demonstrated to allow measurement of two-dimensional refractions. A computer screen is used as the background, which allows for rapid modification of the gradient to tune sensitivity for a particular application.
Experiments in Fluids – Springer Journals
Published: May 17, 2016
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