Read More: ScienceAlert
Medical techniques for looking inside our bodies have come a long way, but in the future it looks like doctors may be able to see absolutely everything going on under our skin. Researchers have invented a new kind of camera that can actually see through structures inside the human body, detecting light sources behind as much as 20 centimetres (7.9 inches) of bodily tissue. The current prototype, developed by researchers from the University of Edinburgh in the UK, is designed to work in conjunction with endoscopes – long, slender instruments that are often equipped with cameras, sensors and lights to peer inside hollow cavities inside the human body. Endoscopes are valuable tools for all sorts of medical procedures, but up until now it's been difficult to externally confirm exactly where in the body the instrument is looking, without resorting to things like X-ray scans. Now that's no longer a problem, due to the new camera's capability to detect sources of light inside the body, such as the illuminated tip of the endoscope's long flexible tube. Thanks to thousands of integrated photon detectors inside the camera, the device can detect individual particles of light being beamed through human tissue. When photons come into contact with bodily structures, light usually scatters or bounces off the tissue, but the camera's sensitivity enables it to pick up any tiny traces of light that make it through. By reconciling light signals that come directly to the camera with scattered photons – which travel longer distances and so take longer to reach it – the device is able to determine where the light-emitting endoscope is placed inside the body.