## Abstract

We investigate the target detection performance of static Mueller imagers that implement a fixed number of illumination and analysis polarization states. Using a maximin approach, we demonstrate that the optimal sets of measurement vectors consist in regular tetrahedra on the Poincaré sphere and that, in this case, the obtained target/background contrast has a very simple expression. We then derive a universal lower bound on the contrast ratio between the best channel of a static imager and a fully adaptive one, and in a special case of practical interest, we demonstrate that this ratio is bounded and always larger than 1/9. This is very important in practice since static imagers are much easier to build and operate. Our results show that they constitute a good alternative where ultimate contrast improvement is not necessary.

© 2017 Optical Society of America

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