Can your smart phone see through the walls?

By : Mehwish Akhlaq.

Brace yourselves: the future just walked in through the door.

“CID Agent stops the bomb from exploding using his smartphone.” The news flashes on the television, sounds too much far-fetched, Isn’t it? Well no longer. Thanks to the tiny, inexpensive microchips produced by a pair of electrical engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the idea no longer seems chimerical.


The new research links the untapped region of the electromagnetic spectrum (Terahertz), with a new microchip technology. The new chips of smartphones made of CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) technology not only boost the signals more than thousand times compared to the existing ways, but they also emit terahertz signals. Terahertz waves, found between microwaves and infra-red radiation, can penetrate materials without the ionizing damage of X-rays. These, unexplored region of electromagnetic spectrum, have a great potential for scanning and imaging, they produce high degree of image resolution and can see through plastic, clothes and other objects. Not only this, the research is also being carried to make objects invisible inside a terahertz invisibility cloak. This technology has limitless implications from detecting counterfeit money, to helping doctors identify tumors.

But does the idea of the smartphones able to see through the walls will turn the world into more or less a peepshow? If privacy concerns are something that is stopping you from appreciating the advancement, relax, researchers only want to focus on uses in the distance range, of less than four inches.

The writer is an executive member at NUST Science Society and a Freshman at School of Chemical and Materials Engineering.



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