Science News

Taking photos through opaque objects

Mon, 10th May 2010

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Does Beer Kill Brain Cells?

Something which has always tantalised many people ranging from surveillance agencies to the more dubious parts of society is being able to see through opaque objects. If the object absorbs all the light hitting it then this is impossible but if an object is translucent, and scatters light in lots of random directions mixing up the image so much it is impossible for our eyes to decode it, but in theory none of the information about what is behind it is lost.

Nikon D700 cameraSebastian Popoff and collegues at the Langevin Institute in Paris have worked out a way of getting this information back. They have managed to see through a slide covered with zinc oxide particles which to your eyes look white. They have done it by first shining a series of carefully calibrated laser pulses through the slide, and working out what patterns these produce on a camera sensor. From this they can work out what effect the slide is happening on the light, so when they put an object behind the slide, the pattern will change and they can work out from this change in pattern what the object looked like.

This is certainly not going to let us see through a wall, and seeing through frosted glass is still very difficult without a lot of careful setup and illumination, but it may be useful in the short term for seeing through an opaque sample in a microscope, and it has been suggested that the same technique could make a white wall behave like a mirror.



Subscribe Free

Related Content


Make a comment

Visible light cannot pass thru what we class as solid objects as a rule excepting such solids as glass and some plastics.
Other frequencies of of electromagnetic radiation can do so readily, such as radio waves and energetic radiation such as Xrays and Gamma rays.
Radio waves of .1 mm to 1 mm are coming into use as airport scanners as they pass readily thru clothing and can reveal hidden weapons and are of a sufficiently short wavelength to provide good resolution.
syhprum, Tue, 11th May 2010

See the whole discussion | Make a comment

Not working please enable javascript
Powered by UKfast
Genetics Society