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Sep 14, 2016 11:30 PM EDT

MIT Researchers Develop Camera That Can Read Closed Books; Gives Hope To Archiving Sensitive, Antique Books [VIDEO]

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Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a camera that has the ability to distinguish letters printed on a stack of papers.

The MIT researchers stated that the team developed a new computational imaging technique that allows them to 'see' through the pages of closed books, MIT News reported.

While the team at MIT stated that currently the project is at its prototype stage, recent results prove to be a promising one. The test was conducted by stacking sheets of papers, with each sheet having a single letter printed on it. The imaging system had successfully distinguished nine letters.

The new imaging system makes use of terahertz radiation, which refers to the band of electromagnetic radiation between microwave and infrared light.

The researchers have chosen the aforementioned technique over other surface-penetrating waves, such as ultrasound or X-ray due to its advantage in rendering a clearer image, for its intended purpose.

Terahertz radiation is absorbed differently by certain chemicals, as opposed to X-rays and ultrasound. Its distinct characteristics allows for a more clearer image retention that the other penetrating waves, according to Motherboard.

Terahertz can easily pass through paper, while the ink printed on the paper absorbs a significant amount of the signal that can easily render a distinct image.

The researchers were able to measure each burst of terahertz radiation that bounces back to the sensor with such accuracy that the team were even able to distinguish each depth of reflection according to the page, and even down to the air pockets between the sheets, which are about 20 micrometers wide.

The newly developed technique can lead to significant advances in a number different fields. For one, the Metropolitan Museum in New York have expressed its interest in the technique, as there has been a need for a new technique in archiving sensitive books without risking of breaking of over-handling.

Once the imaging system has been fully developed, literature and archeology alike could greatly benefit from this technique.

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