Comic-Book Superpowers Become Reality Seeing Through Walls - Plastic And You...by Jack Swint
Seeing through peoples clothing and luggage is no longer just for TSA agents at your local airport. Scientists say this new breakthrough will revolutionize the world as we see through it.
Research scientists have built a hi-tech chip that allows a phone to 'see through' walls, wood and plastics - and although the researchers are coy about this, through fabrics such as clothing. Doctors could also use the imagery to look inside the body for cancer tumors without damaging x-rays or large, expensive MRI scanners. The researchers claim it could allow the working man to detect studs within walls, or allow businesses to detect counterfeit money. At present, it's designed to work over a short range and works with a normal sized microchip that could fit into phones or other handheld electronics.
How It Works
The scientific team's research involves tapping into an unused range in the electromagnetic spectrum. The terahertz band of the electromagnetic spectrum, is one of the wavelength ranges that falls between microwave and infrared. "We've created approaches that open a previously untapped portion of the electromagnetic spectrum for consumer use and life-saving medical applications," said Dr. Kenneth O, professor of electrical engineering at UT Dallas. "The terahertz range is full of unlimited potential that could benefit us all."
Using the new approach, images can be created with signals operating in the terahertz (THz) range without having to use several lenses inside a device. This could reduce overall size and cost. The second advance that makes the findings applicable for consumer devices is the technology used to create the microchip. Chips manufactured using CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) technology form the basis of many consumer electronic devices used in daily life such as personal computers, smart phones, high definition TV and game consoles.
CMOS is affordable and can be used to make lots of chips,’ Dr. O said. "The combination of CMOS and terahertz means you could put this chip and receiver on the back of a cellphone, turning it into a device carried in your pocket that can see through objects." Due to privacy concerns, Dr. O and his team are focused on uses in the distance range of less than four inches.
There are also more communication channels available in terahertz than the range currently used for wireless communication, so information could be more rapidly shared at this frequency. Terahertz can also be used for imaging to detect cancer tumors, diagnosing disease through breath analysis, and monitoring air toxicity. ‘There are all kinds of things you could be able to do that we just haven't yet thought about,’ said Dr. O, holder of the Texas Instruments Distinguished Chair.
Other Related Work At MIT And The Military
In 2011, a project from MIT introduced a radar to penetrate concrete walls up to 8 inches. Who will use such a thing? The military, of course. “Our objective is to aid the urban warfighter to assist his situational awareness,” says Gregory Charvat, a technical staff member at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. You don’t exactly get a clear picture from the system. Instead, the display looks something like a heat map. "Such a tool could be an enormous boon to members of the military when trying to find suspects or locate missing people."
But with technology like this, comes privacy issues. In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled in Kyllo v United States that using a thermal sensor to examine a suspect’s home constituted a search and would therefore require a warrant. Would “seeing” through walls be held to the same standard?
End Of Story
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