A new laser technique can capture an image of an object obscured behind painted glass.

Sylvain Gigan and his team at ESPCI ParisTech in France have devised a method that traces the scattered path that photons take as they pass through an opaque white material. On one side of a glass slide covered in thick white paint, the researchers projected the image of a flower. They illuminated this set-up with a laser and took a photograph from the slide's other side. After calculating the light's zigzagging journey through the painted glass, they were able to reconstruct the flower image.

With improvements, the technique might one day be used in medical imaging to see through opaque biological tissue such as skin.

Nature Commun. doi:10.1038/ncomms1078 (2010)