The new technology allows cameras to capture colors they are unable to perceive


Thanks to a new technology developed by the Tel Aviv University, it is now possible to visualize gases and substances such as hydrogen, carbon and sodium, each of which has a unique color in the infrared spectrum, as well as biological compounds that occur in nature but are “invisible. “with the naked eye or normal cameras. The technology allows cameras to recognize colors that the human eye and even ordinary cameras cannot perceive.

As noted by scientists, the technology has innovative applications in various fields, from computer games, to photography, and to the disciplines of security, medicine and astronomy.

Dr Michael Mrejen of TAU’s Condensed Material Physics Department said: “The human eye collects photons at wavelengths between 400 nanometers and 700 nanometers, between the wavelengths of blue and red. But that’s only a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum, including radio waves, microwaves, X-rays, and more. Below 400 nanometers there is ultraviolet or UV radiation, and above 700 nanometers there is infrared radiation, which in turn is divided into near, medium and far infrared. “

“In each of these parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, there is a great deal of information about ‘color-coded’ materials that have hitherto been hidden from view.”

Scientists explain, “Colors in these parts of the spectrum are of great importance as many materials have a unique signature expressed as color, especially in the mid-infrared range. For example, cancer cells could be easily detected since they have a higher concentration of molecules of a certain type. “

Current infrared sensing technologies are expensive and generally unable to reproduce those “colors”. In medical imaging, experiments have been carried out in which infrared images are converted into visible light to identify the cancer cells of the molecules. Until now, this conversion required advanced and expensive cameras, which weren’t necessarily affordable for general use.

But in their study, the TAU researchers were able to develop a cost-effective and efficient technology that could be mounted on a standard camera and that allows, for the first time, the conversion of photons of light from the entire mid-infrared region to the visible region, at frequencies. that the human eye and standard camera can pick up.

Prof. Haim Suchowski from TAU’s Department of Condensed Material Physics said: “We humans can see between red and blue. If we could see into the infrared realm, we would see that hydrogen, carbon and sodium have a unique color. So an environmental monitoring satellite could “see” a pollutant emitted from a plant, or a spy satellite could see where explosives or uranium are hidden. Also, since every object emits infrared heat, all of this information could be seen even at night. “

Journal reference:
  1. Michael Mrejen et al., Multi-color time-resolved upconversion imaging by Sum adiabatic frequency conversion, laser and photonics reviews (2020). DOI: 10.1002 / lpor.202000040
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