updated 03:50 pm EDT, Fri April 20, 2012
Researchers tap terahertz range, CMOS technology
A pair of research breakthroughs at the University of Texas at Dallas could one day bring about cellphones that can see through walls, wood, and plastic. A team at the university has designed an imager chip that would use a largely untapped segment of the electromagnetic spectrum to allow for thinner electronic devices with a wider array of imaging capabilities.
The team's research focuses on the terahertz band of the electromagnetic spectrum, which lies between microwave and infrared radiation on the spectrum. Using the team's imaging method, it is possible to create images without the need for multiple lenses inside a device.
By combining the terahertz imager chip with the CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) technology currently used in the construction of many computers, smartphones, and HDTVs, the researchers believe it's possible to create pocket-sized devices capable of seeing through solid materials. Initial applications could include using a phone to find a wall stud or to authenticate documents, though the research team also sees potential for cancer detection and air quality monitoring.