Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Physicists find way to see through paint, paper, and other opaque materials

Date:
March 9, 2010
Source:
American Physical Society
Summary:
New experiments show that it's possible to focus light through opaque materials and detect objects hidden behind them, provided you know enough about the material.

Knowing enough about the way light is scattered through materials would allow physicists to see through opaque substances, such as the sugar cube on the right. In addition, physicists could use information characterizing an opaque material to put it to work as a high quality optical component, comparable to the glass lens show on the left.
Credit: American Physical Society

Materials such as paper, paint, and biological tissue are opaque because the light that passes through them is scattered in complicated and seemingly random ways. A new experiment conducted by researchers at the City of Paris Industrial Physics and Chemistry Higher Educational Institution (ESPCI) has shown that it's possible to focus light through opaque materials and detect objects hidden behind them, provided you know enough about the material.

The experiment is reported in the current issue of Physical Review Letters, and is the subject of Viewpoint in APS Physics by Elbert van Putten and Allard Mosk of the University of Twente.

In order to demonstrate their approach to characterize opaque substances, the researchers first passed light through a layer of zinc oxide, which is a common component of white paints. By studying the way the light beam changed as it encountered the material, they were able to produce a numerical model called a transmission matrix, which included over 65,000 numbers describing the way that the zinc oxide layer affected light. They could then use the matrix to tailor a beam of light specifically to pass through the layer and focus on the other side. Alternatively, they could measure light emerging from the opaque material, and use the matrix to assemble of an image of an object behind it.

In effect, the experiment shows that an opaque material could serve as a high quality optical element comparable to a conventional lens, once a sufficiently detailed transmission matrix is constructed. In addition to allowing us to peer through paper or paint, and into cells, the technique opens up the possibility that opaque materials might be good optical elements in nano-scale devices, at levels where the construction of transparent lenses and other components is particularly challenging.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Physical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. S. M. Popoff, G. Lerosey, R. Carminati, M. Fink, A. C. Boccara, and S. Gigan. Measuring the Transmission Matrix in Optics: An Approach to the Study and Control of Light Propagation in Disordered Media. Physical Review Letters, 2010; DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.104.100601
  2. Elbert G. van Putten and Allard P. Mosk. The information age in optics: Measuring the transmission matrix. Physics, 2010; 3 (22) DOI: 10.1103/Physics.3.22

Cite This Page:

American Physical Society. "Physicists find way to see through paint, paper, and other opaque materials." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100308132052.htm>.
American Physical Society. (2010, March 9). Physicists find way to see through paint, paper, and other opaque materials. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100308132052.htm
American Physical Society. "Physicists find way to see through paint, paper, and other opaque materials." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100308132052.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Company Copies Keys From Photos

Company Copies Keys From Photos

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) A new company allows customers to make copies of keys by simply uploading a couple of photos. But could it also be great for thieves? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A SpaceX Rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, carrying a custom-built 3-D printer into space. NASA envisions astronauts one day using the printer to make their own spare parts. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Inside London's Massive Sewer Tunnel Project

Inside London's Massive Sewer Tunnel Project

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Billions of dollars are being spent on a massive super sewer to take away London's vast output of waste, which is endangering the River Thames. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins