Real time hyperspectral imaging
In many situations it would be beneficial to have an instrument that can show directly the spatial distribution of various chemical components in real time of a surface. Typical application areas are forensic and military where investigators can rapidly locate the presence of blood, gunpowder, toxic chemical and explosive residues on surfaces. To accomplish this, rapid (real-time) scanning is needed. In addition to that, the results have to be intuitively visualised. To detect the concentration of various chemical and biological molecules without the use of wet-chemical method, spectroscopy is needed. To perform spectros copy of whole surfaces, hyperspectral cameras are a natural choice as they produce image cubes where each pixel contains not only intensities from the red, green and blue channel as in colour photos, but also intensities from hundreds or thousands of wavelengths. Use of hyperspectral cameras open the possibility to use a chemometric model on each pixel in order to estimate concentrations of different compounds. Other properties than concentration can also be predicted from spectroscopic profiles such as age of materials and classification of medical and biological states. The results from such chemometric data analyses are chemical images, i.e. each pixel is assigned one or several concentration values (or properties). When these images are updated in real-time, we obtain chemical (or property) movies. The chemometric model is constructed off-line with suitable training and test set data. When a predictive model is achieved, it is ready for use in the real-time hyperspectral camera.
The challenge with hyperspectral cameras is that the image cubes are very large and not suitable for real-time processing. The current invention solves this limitation by producing the chemical images on the fly in the collection of the spectral data. This means that the chemometric model is used directly every time the camera records spectra. No storage of the large data cube is performed which dramatically improves efficiency. The invention is different depending on the type of hyperspectral technology used.
Another part of the invention is related to how the computed chemical images are displayed. A simple approach is to use a screen or goggles. The current invention gives an approach where the image is projected back onto the original surface using a laser projector such that the location of different compounds is observed in situ. Since the laser-projecting beam is operating on a wavelength different from the active region of the camera, it will not interfere with the spectroscopic recording. This permits uninterrupted projection and recording simultaneously.
• The spatial location can be made for a wide range of compounds.
• What is observed can be custom-made by creating specialised chemometric models.
• The user can switch rapidly between different models while recording.
• Depending of the model, other properties than compound concentration that are extracted from the spectroscopic information can be visualised.
• Scanning of high explosive residues in scenes during military and security operations
• Inspection of compounds dangerous for the environment
• Inspection of tissue surfaces during surgery, e.g. detecting cancer
STATE OF DEVELOPMENT • A prototype is under construction.
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