Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Feel the Noise

New technique that reduces background noise in 3D imaging

13 March 2020

Feel the Noise

Like spotting faces in a fog, computers also struggle to recognise objects when background noise – such as random light particles, called photons – obscures a scene. Here, a new 3D imaging technique copes with noise by making ‘useful’ photons easier to spot. Carefully timed pulses of laser light fired at the image are matched up with light bouncing back – weeding out the noisy photons, which don’t share the same timing, during analysis. Here the approach takes 3D images of a noisy scene (bottom row), then removes some of their troublesome photons, revealing Albert Einstein (top right), with similar clarity to an image taken without any background noise (top left). The method might be adapted for use in biomedical imaging too – where spotting cell and tissues in low light conditions is often a battle with noise – revealing details that make all the difference to diagnosis or treatment.

Written by John Ankers

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