The discovery may have implications for improving the quality of images seen through an array of matter, including paint and paper, as well as biological tissue. It also runs counter to common thought about what light absorption does to the images we see.
"It seems as if light wants to avoid absorption by going along straight paths," said
The discovery appeared recently in the journal Physical Review B, published by the
When there was no absorption, light scattered dramatically through the material. This is because of a dispersal of photons similar to the paths one would follow through an elaborate maze.
However, when absorption occurs, those paths take a more direct route through the material.
"At the same time, you can recover the structural information of an object located behind an opaque medium much more easily," said
Liew said the work should have real-life applications, particularly with biological tissue, as scientists begin to explore ways to shape and manipulate light absorption. "You can potentially image deeper into the tissue," he said.
The research was supported by a grant from the
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