Although all steel-bodied cars rust eventually, premature rusting may soon be less of a problem thanks to technology developed by father-and-son team Anis and Aunik Rahman. Their system non-destructively analyzes automobiles' paint jobs, making sure that the layers of paint have been applied properly. It could reportedly also find use diagnosing the early stages of skin cancer.

The system works by emitting a beam of terahertz-frequency radiation into the applied paint. That beam harmlessly penetrates right through to the metal, although some of it is also reflected back by the individual layers of paint. By analyzing those reflections, it's possible to ascertain how thick each of those layers is, measured down to the tens of nanometers. The size of particles (such as metallic flakes) added to the paint can also be measured, down to 25 nanometers.

Additionally, it's possible to determine if adjacent layers are separate, or blend into one another. This is an important distinction, as protective outer coatings won't work properly if they penetrate the underlying paint.

The technology could apparently also be used to see how paints bond to different types of materials, to test paint on older items for lead, and to analyze the composition of paint on historical artifacts. As mentioned, it's claimed that the system could additionally be used "to analyze the structure of skin layers and determine if they are healthy or diseased."

Anis and Aunik have developed the technology to a commercial-ready state via their company, Applied Research and Photonics Inc., and are now seeking business partners.

Source: The Optical Society