Well, the day when we can’t change clothes or shower in comfort might be coming sooner than we thought. Scientists from the University of Maryland have developed a sensor that can see through walls, and they’re looking at making it into goggles.
As Gizmodo reports, the sensor works by detecting T-rays (i.e. terahertz radiation), a part of the light spectrum which can be manipulated to see through surfaces. In the past, researchers couldn’t make use of this because sensors only work at very low temperatures. But by using graphene, the Maryland team made a room temperature sensor, opening up a whole world of possibility.
In case you’re thinking that there’s still time to stockpile full body swimsuits and underwear, there’s no point: it can even see through skin. But don’t worry, it’s not going to be used to spy on private citizens. Probably. The sensor’s most likely use is in military operations, where knowing exactly what’s happening in the next room could save a lot of lives. It could also potentially be used instead of X-rays, as T-rays are less damaging.
Graphene is pure carbon: just an atom thick, it’s strong and versatile, conducts heat and electricity well, and is likely to have all kinds of uses in the future that we can’t even imagine. The material was discovered in 2004 by Manchester University physicists Sir Kostya Novoselov and Sir Andre Geim. This week, George Osborne announced that as well as being home to the National Graphene Institute, which is close to being finished, the university will also receive a £60m investment in a Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre, aimed at bringing innovative uses of the material to market as quickly as possible.
Image by Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis K. Mendoza via Wikimedia Commons.
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