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Seeing Through Walls of ­nknown Materials

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A through-wall scan (left), and the same scan with distortions removed (right).

Duke University researchers have devised a technique for seeing through walls without any advance knowledge of the substance of the walls.

Credit: Duke Pratt School of Engineering

Researchers at Duke University have developed a technique that exploits a wall's symmetry to see through it using a narrow band of microwave frequencies without any advance knowledge of the material from which the wall is made.

Since walls are generally flat and uniform in all directions, they distort the microwaves in a symmetrical fashion. "We wrote an algorithm that separates the data into parts--one that shows circular symmetry and another that doesn't," says Duke postdoctoral researcher Okan Yurduseven.

The new method identifies the data that does not have any symmetry, using only a single frequency to scan because it reduces the number of interference patterns created by the wall.

During testing, the researchers analyzed the data and removed the symmetrical patterns, and could make out objects placed behind the walls.

"We envision combining this technique with a machine-vision system that someone could move over a wall to see what's inside," says Duke professor Daniel Marks.

From Duke Pratt School of Engineering
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