BOSTON: Scientists, including one of Indian origin, have developed a new technology that can read closed book, an advance that may help archaeologists look into antique books without touching them.
Researchers, including Ramesh Raskar from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, tested a prototype of the system on a stack of papers, each with one letter printed on it. The system was able to correctly identify the letters on the top nine sheets.
“The Metropolitan Museum in New York showed a lot of interest in this, because they want to, for example, look into some antique books that they don’t even want to touch,” said Barmak Heshmat, a research scientist at MIT.
He said that the system could be used to analyse any materials organised in thin layers, such as coatings on machine parts or pharmaceuticals.
The researchers from MIT and Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in the US developed the algorithms that acquire images from individual sheets in stacks of paper, and interprets the often distorted or incomplete images as individual letters.
Terahertz frequency profiles can distinguish between ink and blank paper, in a way that X-rays can not, and has much better depth resolution than ultrasound.
The system exploits the fact that between the pages of a book tiny air pockets are trapped about 20 micrometres deep.
At the moment, the algorithm can correctly deduce the distance from the camera to the top 20 pages in a stack, but past a depth of nine pages, the energy of the reflected signal is so low that the differences between frequency signatures are swamped by noise.