Holographic Camera Probes Beyond Obstacles

A new imaging technique (holographic camera) could one day allow doctors to peer into human tissue and behind bones, mechanics to inspect moving machinery like airplane turbines for tiny flaws, and automated vehicles to see through dense fog or around blind corners. A new study demonstrates how the process, known as synthetic wavelength holography, can capture detailed and nearly instant snapshots of objects hidden from view.

When light bounces around a corner or passes through a cloudy material, it scatters. You must undo the scattering and resolve the (hidden) structures with extreme precision to see what’s on the other side of such obstacles. The holographic camera technique overcomes these challenges at frame rates fast enough for video.

Laser beams with slightly different wavelengths are fired past obstructions, such as a wall or a translucent material, to strike a hidden target. The reflected wavelengths are captured and superimposed, resulting in an interference pattern that reveals the distances between objects hidden from direct view.

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