Researchers at Duke University reported in the journal Science a new manmade metamaterial that can act as a lens to image scenes using fewer components than conventional detectors.
Using this metamaterial means additional equipment needed for conventional detector systems -- like lenses, mechanical positioners and data storage or transmission devices -- are not required, they said.
The material, a thin laminate with row-upon-row of tiny squares etched onto copper, each tuned to a different frequency of light, is flexible and durable enough to be attached to a wall, wrapped around corners or even laid on the floor like a rug, making it an inexpensive alternative for a variety of sensing applications, the researchers reported.
The system works with microwave light and produces two-dimensional images.
"By taking advantage of the unique properties of these metamaterials, we were able to create a system capable of microwave imaging without lenses or any moving parts," Duke graduate student John Hunt said.
Unlike current imaging systems that must move a single sensing device with a small aperture to scan an object or a person, the new device can scan the entire field at once, resulting in faster and more efficient screening, the researchers said.
"Using conventional systems such as airport security cameras or collision-detection devices, you have to wait for a scan to complete before you can see an image, while the new system can scan an entire range at once," Hunt said.