Wired may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. Close-up of the one-dimensional metamaterial aperture. One of the essential components is the optical delay element network used for signal processing, which consists of more than 280 delay cells. All rights reserved. “Today’s practical microwave imagers are bench-top systems that are bulky and expensive,” said research team leader Firooz Aflatouni from the University of Pennsylvania, USA. But at the same time, you can still see plastics, metal, skin,” said graduate student John Hunt of Duke University, co-author of a description of the device published today in Science. “This system is significantly smaller and more efficient than its electronic equivalent because the delay cells are more than 10 times smaller and more than 10 times more efficient,” said Farshid Ashtiani, a graduate student in Aflatouni’s group and coauthor on the paper. The MIT camera, from a team led by the Media Lab’s Gregory Charvat, uses microwave “flashes” to illuminate the scene. The camera features a one-dimensional aperture made from a copper-based metamaterial. After short microwave pulses illuminated each object placed in front of the imager, the four antennas received the reflected signals, which were used to form the image of each target object. The WIRED conversation illuminates how technology is changing every aspect of our lives—from culture to business, science to design. “Our work shows that standard semiconductor fabrication techniques can be used to create robust photonic systems containing many devices,” said Aflatouni. Soon, the device could be adapted and used in law enforcement and security, where among other uses, its inventors envision airport scanners that screen passengers for weapons or explosives as they walk by. These longer wavelengths have traditionally required bigger detectors that are slow, expensive to construct, and require continuous reorientation to capture targets. Not so for microwaves, which can be one meter long. They also want to use shorter microwave pulses to achieve higher resolution. The camera Hunt helped design is different. Adapting the system differently could yield a quicker baggage scanner. To recreate a scene in three dimensions the team will need to build a two-dimensional aperture. A small, microwave-detecting camera that can see through solid materials in real time has been developed. Traditional cameras rely on lenses that guide light to detectors comprising millions of pixels. That’s not far off, Hunt said. These microwave signals are then encoded into an optical signal and are optically processed — emulating a microwave lens — to form an image. Ad Choices, New Metamaterial Camera Has Super-Fast Microwave Vision. Credit: Ella Maru Studio. Others can reveal them. Because optical wavelengths are short, a detector array can fit in the back of an eye or a tiny camera. Nadia is a science reporter who enjoys telling true stories about planets and animals and bugs and spiders and crazy materials and...ok, science. The cornea, aqueous humor, and crystalline lens collectively act as a bandpass filter, only passing wavelengths between 400 … These flashes are 100,000 times weaker … It is the essential source of information and ideas that make sense of a world in constant transformation. Scanning the scene at various microwave frequencies allows the computer to capture all the information necessary to reproduce a scene.
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