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This imager chip is inspired by Superman’s powers

Tan KW
Publish date: Tue, 18 Jun 2024, 10:00 AM
Tan KW
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Researchers in the US and South Korea have developed a chip with technology directly inspired by Superman's X-ray vision. Integrated into a mobile device, this chip could allow users to see behind walls or even inside a parcel.

Researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas in the US and Seoul National University in Korea have developed an imager chip capable of "scanning" the inside of a bag or parcel, or detecting solid objects on the other side of a wall. They are now concentrating on miniaturising the technology so that it can one day be integrated into a smartphone.

Of course, there's no question of using X-rays, like the American superhero, since exposure to them could be particularly harmful to health. In fact, this chip emits 300 GHz signals, enabling it to locate any solid object at short range, from distances of around 2 to 3cm, using the signals reflected back by the object.

The idea is to respect privacy, not to allow people to spy on neighbours through walls. A future version should be capable of rendering images at up to 12.5cm away, making it easier to detect small objects. This technology is, in fact, similar to the microwave technology used in airport passenger screening gantries.

The challenge now is to make the technology small enough for mobile devices, while improving image quality. In any case, this chip has no lenses or optics, and the reflected signals are used to "draw" an image of the objects identified in this way. In the future, this technology could potentially have medical applications.

 - AFP Relaxnews

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