One of the coolest powers that superheroes ever got was X-Ray vision. Imagine being able to see through everything. You would be able to see threats before they appear or play a multitude of pranks on your friends. The only thing holding us back is that X-Rays are actually pretty dangerous in heavy doses. Scientists in Israel have found a genius solution that removes X-Rays from the equation altogether.
Three scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have discovered a way to see around corners and through walls with natural light. The technique is called scattered media and it’s kind of like the teleportation of light. As you may or may not know, what we see around us is actually light bouncing off of objects. Our eyes then process this light and create the images that we see.
Cameras work in much the same way. The only problem is that cameras, like our eyes, can’t see through objects that block light. If we look at a wall, we’re only seeing the light that is being reflected off the wall. We can’t see the light that’s behind the wall creating the images that exist there. The new camera from the Weizmann Institute of Science solves this problem.
The approach is surprisingly simple, and relies on a device called a spatial light modulator (SLM). Basically, when light bounces off an object, each part of that object changes the phase of light differently. An SLM is an array of pixels that can alter the phase of light passing through it, depending on the electrical current passing through each pixel. In this case, the scientists used a genetic optimization algorithm to modulate each pixel of the SLM until a sharp image is extracted from the white noise.
As you can see, it’s not exactly X-Ray Vision in the traditional sense. The technique is also still highly impractical from a usefulness standpoint. Regardless, it’s a step in the right direction. The technology can be used to better identify things within a body during surgery. It also doesn’t require doctors to shoot radioactive X-Rays through your skin. It’s a win-win for everybody.
If you wish to read the research on this new camera, check out the scientist’s research. It’s fascinating and provides a good look into how we might perceive light in the future.