X-Ray vision might become a reality on your cell phone in the not-too-distant future. Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have designed an imager chip that could turn mobile phones into devices that can see through walls, wood, plastics, paper and other objects.
The team’s research linked two scientific advances. One involves tapping into an unused range in the electromagnetic spectrum called the terahertz range. The other is a microchip technology called CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor). Dr. Kenneth O, a professor of electrical engineering at UT Dallas led the research. He said:
CMOS is affordable and can be used to make lots of chips. 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.
Consumer applications of such technology could range from finding studs in walls to authentication of important documents. Businesses could use it to detect counterfeit money.
Terahertz can also be used for imaging to detect cancer tumors, diagnosing disease through breath analysis, and monitoring air toxicity. Dr. O said:
There are all kinds of things you could be able to do that we just haven’t yet thought about.
The research was presented at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in February, 2012.
Bottom line: Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have designed an imager chip that could turn mobile phones into devices that can see through walls, wood, plastics, paper and other objects.