Researchers at the University of Glasgow have found a way to take 3D pictures without cameras. Instead they use a light projector, that you can find in any classroom/theatre, a computer and 4 pixels. Thats right, not millions of pixels (megapixels), just 4. Their system is called 3D computational imaging and as well as being very cheap and simple, it has potential applications in medical diagnostics and gas exploration. Regular cameras form images on an array of tiny photodetectors, CCDs, made from silicon, which is great when you want to observe visible light, but unfortunately these don’t work well in the infrared or beyond. You can buy cameras for some other wavelengths but generally they are very expensive, and in other wavelengths you can’t image at all. However, you can buy single pixels (photodiodes) for almost any wavelength. This technique, which has been published in Science today, shows how imaging with these devices is possible and that it can even produce 3D images. The prospect for producing very cheap yet high quality 3D images at wavelengths outside the visible spectrum is attractive to many fields, including medicine and geophysics.
The work is titled: 3D Computational Imaging with Single-Pixel Detectors