A team of engineers built a system that lets people to see colors in the infrared spectrum — as long as they’re looking through a camera lens.
Researchers from Tel Aviv University built a system that, mounted on a camera, make the colors of infrared light visible to us. It makes a normally-expensive scientific tool more accessible — to the point it could be used for photography or citizen science.
Visible light is only a tiny part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which also includes radio waves, microwaves, X-rays and more. In each of these parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, there is a great deal of information on materials encoded as ‘colors’ that has until now been hidden from view.
TAU researchers have developed cheap and efficient technology that could be mounted on a standard camera and 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 the standard camera can pick up.
The technology makes it possible to image 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 are found in nature but are ‘invisible’ to the naked eye or ordinary cameras.
It has groundbreaking applications in a variety of fields from computer gaming and photography as well as the disciplines of security, medicine and astronomy.
Aside from photography and science, the scientists suggest a few slightly more consequential uses for their low-cost infrared tech.
For example an environmental monitoring satellite could ‘see’ a pollutant being emitted from a plant or a spy satellite would see where explosives or uranium are being hidden.
Reference- Phys.Org, Futurism, Tel Aviv University Outreach, Smithsonian Magazine