Terahertz scanners could potentially see through walls, inside pockets and into wallets, but they're either large and expensive, or contain high-powered nanolasers that limit their use. Now a Texas team has a new approach that could use everyday mobile phones, making terahertz-band scanners simple and ubiquitous.
Electromagnetic waves in the terahertz range can penetrate where optical light can't, and they can sense any molecule, so they are useful for security scanners, medical devices and various other applications. Their energies fall between microwaves and infrared light. But terahertz imaging devices require tons of energy and multiple lenses to focus light, so they are prohibitively large. Kenneth O, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas, is developing new versions that would not require multiple lenses.
The key breakthrough was a new fabrication process using familiar complementary metal-oxide semiconductors, the CMOS chips that power most consumer devices. O and his team found they could build a specific type of high-speed diode, called a Schottky diode, in CMOS. These high-speed light devices can reach the THz range using standard CMOS manufacturing processes, which means they'd be fairly simple to integrate into existing devices — without major impacts on cost or size. O presented his work at an IEEE conference this spring.
Researchers at University College London are among other teams working on these new smaller-scale THz devices. Earlier this year, they reported a new design that creates T-rays at low temperatures by mixing and amplifying different wavelengths of light. That system could be integrated into portable scanners, but it requires a different manufacturing process.
"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," O said in a statement. He and his team plan to limit its range to less than four inches, though, so your next Android device unfortunately won't be a Superman phone. Still, this development means handheld THz scanners may not be far off at all.
I wonder if I had a cell phone that can see through walls and perhaps people in some sense, I can see a pin code on a pin code locked door locked door from a distance. Perhaps across the room, I could see them type their password on their computer, maybe through a wall? I do not have to see the letters, just keep track of what keys they are pushing and guess the password later.
Bad guys will be more alert to someone approaching too. I wonder how this technology might be used for evil!
See life in all its beautiful colors, and
from different perspectives too!
If it is possible for this device to "see though walls" while on such a high frequency, what kind of long term effects would we see on the human brain? There are already concerns about the lower frequencies causing negative effects; would this be much worse?
Well this is a bit unnerving.... I know they say they plan to limit it to 4 inches, but obviously that won't stop a lot of people from modifying it to remove the limitations. As soon as these come out will we all have to start worrying that someone with a modified phone will be able to effectively see through our clothes? Such a thought would make me nervous to take my loved ones into large crowds where this kind of behavior would be most likely. Maybe someone will have to come out with a terahertz detector that can sense someone using these waves, just so you always know if someone nearby is a perv.
I wonder if they got the idea from the Dark Knight.
I wonder if this kind of tech could be used for inexpensive medical imaging.
We'll be needing those personal nullspace emmitters sooner than we thought...
Wave diffraction (google it if you don't know) is out of the question to prevent this sort of thing, since we do not yet have time machines.
However simple disruption of Terahertz waves coming at you, by let's say,.. Your phone's own Terahertz frequency? Could easily mitigate any peeping Toms efforts(All they would get back would be visual static)!
I bought some x-ray glasses when I was a kid to see women's well, private parts.
They never worked as planed. This idea has some promise. I may have some hope.
I almost have all the components to build my tricorder.
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I would use it in casinos yeah i just one a million dollars siy i narah suckers ha ha ha
For Marcoreid, beyond9, and others whose first thought on reading about a penetrating vision device is to cover their crotches and increase the thickness of the veils their women are forced to wear, might I suggest Tin Foil Underwear!
This would be made and used very much the same as the Tin Foil Hats used to cover their heads so that the aliens can not read their minds and control their thoughts.
I can already peer though clothing with a simple digital camera, some fully exposed film and an IR light source.
The ability to use a new technology for wrong does not invalidate the merit it has for good.
Again any kid could build a device that could peer through clothing already using materials readily available to them at any Walmart.
Also eavesdrop is to listen in to a conversation without the knowledge of one or more parties.
There is a limit to freedom but it must be as loose as society dares or such freedom is meaningless
Teens will be harassed regardless of this hitting the market
I have a quesion for you green engineers; could used coffee grounds be recycled into wallboards? I mean for centuries used coffee grounds have only been thrown away; but what could science come up with to recycle them?