X-Ray Vision-Like Technology Helps People See Through Frosted Glass

X-Ray Vision-Like Technology Helps People See Through Frosted Glass

Scientists have developed a way for us to have Superman's powers by de-scattering the light passing through a material and reconstructing it in to a clear three-dimensional image.

Andrew Vaterlaus-Staby
  • 31 october 2012

Israeli scientists find a way to look through image-blurring materials.

Researchers Ori Katz, Eran Small, and Yaron Silberberg of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, have developed a method which allows them to see through image-blurring materials – such shower curtains, frosted glass, or living cells – in real time.  The technology works by de-scattering the light passing through a material and reconstructing it in to a clear three-dimensional image through the use of “wavefront shaping” technology.

Although materials such as frosted glass are not entirely opaque, by the time the light has passed through the material the image has become almost completely blurred.  Instead, they take the scattered light and pass it through a Spatial Light Modulator (SPL), a common device found in many overhead projectors.  By modulating the phase and intensity of the light, the lens is able to refocus the large blurry image into a series of smaller images of a known focal length. These smaller images then interfere with one another creating a “memory effect” which recreates the original image.  After passing this through a bandpass filter, what emerges is a clear and focused final image.

Wavefront shaping technology can be used not only to see though image-blurring materials, but also on images reflected off of walls, allowing the user to effectively “see” around corners.  Furthermore it could be applied to fields such as military, firefighting, or aviation, where it might be used to see through fog or smoke.  Another potential application is for doctors who will be able to use this type of imaging to see though living tissues in difficult procedures such as microscopy.

Weizmann Institute of Science


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