Researchers have found a new way to see through opaque materials with the help of light.
This could be done by recording wavelengths from visible light, which can pass through solid material like paint or skin, the Verge reported.
Researchers are now working on methods to reassemble scattered light that has passed through opaque barriers to create a useable image on the other side.
In 2007, scientists Allard Mosk and Ivo Vellekoop attempted to shine a beam of visible light through a glass slide covered with white paint and focus the beam on the other side. They didn't expect it to work, but it did.
Visible light images tend to have a higher resolution than images produced by x-rays, because the wavelengths can interact with organic molecules. But it was exactly these interactions that makes visible light difficult to work with. When visible light interacts with organic molecules, its photons could be scattered or absorbed by the material.
Absorption will alter the resulting image, making it unusable, but scattering means there was an opportunity for scientists to unscramble the photons.
Astronomers have previously solved the problem of scrambling photons using "adaptive optics," a technology that uses an algorithm to calculate how exactly the atmosphere has blurred the imaging of a particular star.
The algorithm then eliminates atmospheric distortions using a special "deformable" mirror. But human bodies are not internally illuminated the way stars are, so adaptive optics was difficult to apply to internal medicine.
For now, the exercise was still a lab study, and practical applications are a long way off. Scientists suggest than in addition to medical treatments, the technology could be used in the military or in art restoration to see underneath layers of paint.
Although many scientists have tried different types of optical imaging, no one technique has proven more effective than the rest.
The study is published in Nature.