Seeing round corners

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  • Published: Aug 31, 2014
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: X-ray Spectrometry / Atomic / Base Peak / Chemometrics & Informatics / Proteomics / NMR Knowledge Base / Infrared Spectroscopy / Raman / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / MRI Spectroscopy

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Objects hidden behind opaque screens or around corners can be visualised using the well-established technique of speckle interferometry combined with an angular memory effect, say French scientists, using a conventional digital camera or a camera phone.

Strange as this may seem, the scattered light retains enough information that an image of the object it came from can be reconstructed using a mathematical autocorrelation function. Describing the process in Nature Photonics, the researchers explained that "this breakthrough is made possible by exploiting the ergodic-like property of speckle in the diffusive regime and the very high pixel count of modern digital cameras."

As a proof of concept, printed transparencies and groups of differently shaped holes in a black screen were imaged through turbid biological samples, namely a thin slice of chicken breast and a slice of shallot skin placed between glass slides. A screen coated with zinc oxide, effectively a white wall, was used to demonstrate seeing around corners.

This novel, real-time, non-invasive method will have applications in many fields, the only limit being our imagination.

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