Seeing the Un-see-able

For the past 15 years, SMU’s Photonic Architectures Laboratory has focused on capturing images of objects that conventional wisdom dictates shouldn’t be see-able. Initial research worked to surpass what early “digital film” was able to record. Once modern digital imagers became prevalent, the goal shifted to overcoming the classical limits of lenses. The latest challenge targeted by DARPA is indirect imaging – taking light that bounces off walls and forming images of objects hidden from view. This talk will highlight a new way of thinking about imaging and will present recent advances in indirect imaging. We hope you’ll come, learn a little bit about our latest research, imagine what can happen when powerful computers combine with digital cameras, and redefine what you think a camera is capable of achieving.

Prof. Christensen began his career in the defense sector building shoebox-sized signal processing engines for RADAR platforms using laser light and electro-optic crystals to form images of targets. He and a co-founder spun a company out of the defense contractor to support optical interconnection technologies which would enable terabit optical signal routing in a shoebox. After the internet bubble of 2001, Prof. Christensen joined SMU as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering where he built enhanced digital camera systems for the department of defense which ranged in size from matchbox to pizza box. Today the team led by SMU, along with collaborators at Harvard, Rice, Northwestern, and Carnegie Mellon, is tackling the indirect imaging challenge under a $4.8M DARPA grant. He hasn’t figured out what size box to put the camera in yet.

Prof. Christensen is currently Dean of the Lyle School of Engineering at SMU and the inaugural Bobby B. Lyle Professor of Engineering Innovation. He has published over 100 journal and conference papers and holds numerous patents. Dean Christensen received a B.S. in Engineering Physics from Cornell University and an M. S. and Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from George Mason University.