Single-pixel terahertz camera will fine tune security screening

October 15th, 2008 - 1:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 15 (IANS) A terahertz version of the single-pixel camera developed by Rice University researchers could lead to breakthrough technologies in security, telecom, signal processing and medicine.The research describes a way to replace the expensive, multipixel sensor arrays used in current terahertz imaging systems with a single sensor.

Terahertz radiation, which occupies space in the electromagnetic spectrum between infrared and microwave, penetrates fabric, wood, plastic and even clouds, but not metal or water.

Unlike X-rays, T-rays are not harmful, and cheap T-ray cameras may someday be used for security screening in airports, supplementing traditional X-ray scanners and walk-through portals.

“Current cameras break an image down into red, green and blue. But this system breaks down every pixel into all the individual wavelengths that make up a colour,” said Kevin Kelly, associate professor in electrical and computer engineering at Rice University.

“If you want to know whether that green object over there is a bunch of trees or a tank painted green, this system will tell you,” he said.

Rice introduced its research into the single-pixel camera two years ago. The technology made waves when it was introduced, and advances have come quickly, particularly in the compressive sensing algorithms that make it possible to do with a single pixel what takes commercial digital cameras millions.

The advances “could make for very inexpensive security and scientific cameras in the near future,” said Richard Baraniuk, professor in electrical and computer engineering at Rice, according to a Rice University release.

Two keys to the system are the ongoing development of a modulator that would feed a rapid-fire series of randomised images to the sensor, and the compressed sensing algorithm that turns the raw data into an image.

These findings have been published online in Applied Physics Letters.

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