Scientists from Tel Aviv University have improved the work of cameras – now they recognize colors inaccessible to the human eye. The research results are published by Laser & Photonics Reviews.
The technology captures images of gases and substances such as hydrogen, carbon and sodium, each with a unique color in the infrared spectrum. In addition, the camera can “see” biological compounds that occur in nature but are “invisible” to the naked eye or to conventional cameras. The development of scientists will be useful in many areas – from computer games and photography, as well as in the field of security, medicine and astronomy.
The study was conducted by Dr. Michael Mrayen, Yoni Ehrlich, Dr. Assaf Levanon, and Prof. Haim Suchowski from the Department of Condensed Matter Physics, Tel Aviv University (TAU).
“The human eye picks up photons with wavelengths between 400 and 700 nm – between the wavelengths of blue and red,” explains Dr. Mrayen. “But this is only a tiny fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum, which includes radio waves, microwaves, X-rays and more. Below 400 nm there is ultraviolet or UV radiation, and above 700 nm there is infrared, which also has subspecies. Each of these parts of the electromagnetic spectrum contains a large amount of information about materials that have been hidden from view until now.
The researchers explain that colors in these parts of the spectrum are important because many materials have unique color signatures, especially in the mid-infrared range.
Existing infrared detection technologies are expensive and in most cases cannot convey these “colors”. In the field of medical imaging, experiments have been conducted in which infrared images are converted into visible light to identify cancer cells by molecules. To date, this transformation required very complex and expensive cameras that are often not available for general use.
But in their study, the TAU scientists were able to develop a cheap and efficient technology that can be installed on a standard camera. It will allow for the first time to convert photons of light from the entire mid-infrared region to the visible. It is at those frequencies that the human eye and a standard camera can pick up.