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Techniques & Tools Spectroscopy

Image of the Month

Hold the Front Page

Barmak Heshmat and his team at the MIT Media Lab have developed an imaging system incorporating terahertz time-domain spectroscopy (THz-TDS), that allows users to ‘read’ through multiple layers of paper. Unlike with x-ray technology, the short bursts of radiation emitted from the terahertz camera are able to distinguish between paper and ink – and in this case, the research team’s prototype was able to identify letters on the first nine sheets of a stack of paper. With its potential to analyze material organized in thin layers in a non-destructive manner, the discovery has implications for pharmaceuticals and the machine industry, as well as art galleries and museums.

Credit: Courtesy of Barmak Heshmat

1. A Redo-Sanchez et al, “Terahertz time-gated spectral imaging for content extraction through layered structures,” Nat Commun, online (2016). DOI:10.1038/ncomms12665

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About the Author
Joanna Cummings

A former library manager and storyteller, I have wanted to write for magazines since I was six years old, when I used to make my own out of foolscap paper and sellotape and distribute them to my family. Since getting my MSc in Publishing, I’ve worked as a freelance writer and content creator for both digital and print, writing on subjects such as fashion, food, tourism, photography – and the history of Roman toilets. Now I can be found working on The Analytical Scientist, finding the ‘human angle’ to cutting-edge science stories.

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