A fairly common lesson to teach children is to not play with fire and just about any time someone does in view of a child, they tell them to not try whatever they are doing at home. This is obviously because fire can be very dangerous, which is why firefighters exist. Now, thanks to some research published in the Optical Society of America's journal, Optics Express, firefighters may get a new tool to see and safely move through a burning building.
For some people the idea of holograms brings into mind the holodecks of Star Trek, but sadly real holograms are not so sophisticated. Instead of projecting a 3D form into free-space, they are a means to store 3D information in a 2D media by using optical interference. To create a hologram a laser beam is split into a reference and object beam. The object beam strikes the object being imaged, which affects its phase so when it recombines with the reference beam they create an interference pattern that stores the 3D data.
By using an infrared laser, the researchers have developed an infrared holographic camera that can see through smoke and flame, but not through people and objects. That means a firefighter armed with this technology would be able to safely see persons trapped by flames and hidden by smoke. The researchers are now working to make the camera portable so it can be used in the field.
Source: Optical Society of America