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Cool Physics: Holographic Fire Vision

Cool Physics: Holographic Fire Vision

New technology makes it possible to see through smoke and flames.

Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) Istituto Nazionale di Ottica

One of the long standing technological challenges for fire fighting has long been finding a way to see through or past smoke and fire.  Despite many important improvements when it comes to fire prevention and safety on the job, when it comes to imaging, the last great development was the infrared camera, which allowed for seeing past smoke but not fire.  That is, until now, with the development of digital holography, researchers hope they will finally be able to do what had long been impossible – see through the radiation given off by flames.

The method of imaging is called digital holography because it involves the splitting of a wide-object beam of continued infrared light.  Unlike current infrared technology, this long-wave length beam is less sensitive to vibrations and able to render 3D images of large scale scenes or objects.  The advanced image sensor used in this type of imaging is so powerful that it removes the need for a zoom lens while reducing the interference that normally comes with smoke particles and other agents that can mess things up when using laser light.

Beyond the world of first-responders, researchers like Pietro Ferraro, from the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) Istituto Nazionale di Ottica in Italy, see a long list of other applications for this technology.  This could be the start of a new era in holographic imaging, especially of humans in motion.  But first, more research into how strong this system would be against more extreme or dense obstacles, such as a wall of fire vs. a less intense fire.  Adjustments to the band of laser could help to get through such challenges, which is part of what must be studied and tested before rolling it out.

In the coming years you will no doubt hear more from Ferraro and his colleagues, as digital holography finds its way into schools, hospitals, tunnels, and a slew of other buildings, perhaps in your neighborhood.

Source: Physics World

Photo: p.Gordon / flickr

digital holograms, holographic projections, holographic applications

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