A small, microwave-detecting camera that can see through solid materials in real time has been developed. Soon, the device could be adapted and used in law enforcement and security where, among other uses, its inventors envision airport scanners that screen passengers for weapons or explosives as they walk by.
The camera features a one-dimensional aperture made from a copper-based metamaterial. Fashioned from plastics or metals, metamaterials behave in ways that ordinary materials naturally do not. Some can cloak objects. Others can reveal them. Here, scientists used the copper-based metamaterial as an aperture for microwaves, the telecommunications workhorses that populate the longer end of the electromagnetic spectrum. By connecting the aperture to an image-reconstructing computer, the researchers can capture information from a scene in real time, with no moving parts.