World's first superspectral camera to aid security screening

Researchers from Scotland are working on the world's first 'superspectral' camera sensors, which will provide images with a wide range of practical applications including medical imaging and security screening.

Working on a 1.5 million-pound-funded research, researchers from the University of Glasgow are starting a four-year experiment, which aims to build a single chip which can resolve images from the different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, the University said in a release today.

The camera's sensor equipped with the chip can provide thermal images of the heat radiated by a person or object and can be used to probe for objects concealed under clothes or skin and visible light sensors capture images similar to those seen by the human eye.

Currently, separate sensor capable of providing information from each of these areas of the electro magnetic spectrum are being used for digital cameras, clinical imaging devices and airport security scanners.

Professor David Cumming, who is leading the project, said, "The most striking development in optical imaging of the last 20 years has been the emergence of digital imaging using complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology.

"Camera technology has advanced rapidly, to the point where 10-megapixel sensors are available for 50 pounds or less, and we're starting to see the same increase and quality and reduction in cost in infrared and far-infrared sensors.

"Researchers in our School of Engineering have been working on innovative sensor applications, and the University has recently announced it will be leading the new national Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems," said the professor.

"We believe we have the engineering expertise and facilities to make the world's first superspectral sensor," he said.

The superspectral sensor will provide considerably improved imaging with a wide range of practical applications including medical imaging and security, Professor Cumming said.

The sensor could provide valuable feedback for workers in high-security spaces such as airports, where it could identify any items under clothes which require further investigation and the visible light capabilities could contribute to facial recognition systems.