Researchers unveil a simple new means to see through "scattering" materials such as frosted glass, or even see around corners. Much research in recent years has focused on correcting for scattering, mostly for medical applications.
Prof Silberberg and his colleagues at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have pushed the limits of what spatial light modulators (SLMs) can do.SLMs modify what is known as the phase of an incoming light beam. Like a series of waves on the ocean that run over rocks or surfers, the waves in light can be slowed down or redirected when they hit scattering materials. Prof Silberberg and his team first set up their SLM by shining light from a normal lamp through a highly scattering plastic film and allowing a computer to finely tune the SLM until they could see a clear image of the lamp through the film. But the team then realised that the same approach can work in reflection - that is, not passing through a scattering material but bouncing off of it, such as the case of light bouncing off a wall at a corner.
The primary use for the technique will be in biological and medical studies - especially tackling the highly scattering white brain matter in neurological imaging - rather than the business of seeing through thin materials or around corners.