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This chip promises “X-ray” vision for everyone (without its dangers ?)

© Unsplash/Owen Beard

What if we told you that “X-ray vision” would soon be available in the form of a sensor that is fairly simple (and inexpensive) to manufacture, easy to put in discreet objects and widely available for purchase? If this prospect interests you frightening, you should know that the technology that could make it possible is indeed on the horizon.

Researchers have just demonstrated that it is possible to create CMOS sensor chips that are sufficiently sensitive, in the millimeter wave range, to see through objects. A bit like X-rays do now. Or airport gantries, operating with this type of waves (reputedly harmless to humans)… except that the latter scan travelers with a pair of transmitters and receivers.

This chip contains both the transmitter source and the receiver

Because the huge difference with current applications is precisely the possibility of seeing through anything, without installing something on the other side that emits waves in the right frequency range, with precise angles.

The CMOS (Complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) process is a technology used for a long time to produce sensors specialized in precision imaging. Photographic sensors, regardless of the electromagnetic frequency range for which they are built and optimized, are all, in reality, pieces of silicon. They are built in a way similar to processors and other chips found in computers.

Unlike the latter, however, the part containing thousands, millions or even billions of sensors is bare, which exposes it directly to the desired frequencies. The CMOS process remains the most widely used for this type of application, because it emits very little heat, has very low static consumption, and therefore generates little noise in the output image.

The innovation of the researchers that we are talking about here is that they demonstrate that it is possible, thanks to a set of “pixels” optimized, amplifiers, and radio transmitters called phase arrayto integrate the wave source and the receivers on the same module. The image taken from these sensors is not quite assembled in the same way as the sensors on your camera or smartphone.

< p>The chip reconstructs the image from the reflection of the waves emitted on the object. If this can (a little) reassure you, it is possible to limit or increase by design the range of image capture and the maximum imageable depth. The researchers thus demonstrated observation at a distance of one centimeter. But it would be possible to observe the interior of objects and people up to a distance of several meters with a chip optimized for this.

All that remains now is to find applications, demonstrate the industrial viability of the chip, and, perhaps, straight away , install some safeguards to avoid the probable abuses of this technology…

  • Researchers have just demonstrated a chip based on millimeter waves working a bit like a smartphone sensor, to image the interior of objects (and people).
  • The assembly contains both a transmitter source and receivers, allowing calculation and final imaging in a way mobile, without complex installation.
  • Of course, deviations are possible…

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116