• Early attempts to image solid objects borrowed an astronomy technique called “adaptive optics,” which uses algorithms to calculate how much an image has been distorted by the atmosphere. Scientists adjusted the technique to solid bodies by shining a laser through a “spatial light modulator” to delay different parts of the beam.
  • Early experiments were surprisingly successful, producing a concentrated beam a thousand times more intense than the scattered light. Inspired by the results, other teams adjusted the technique to work with focused ultrasonic waves, which shifts the laser light frequency.
  • By speeding up the process, another team in Paris imaged the ear of a living mouse last year, a promising start for new types of body scanners. Though a lot of work is left, the technique has potential not only for medicine, but also fields like art restoration or archaeology, where experts could see what’s underneath multiple layers of paint, for instance.

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