Apparatus And Method For Dispersive Fourier-transform Imaging

Tech ID: 20369 / UC Case 2009-045-0


Researchers in the Electrical Engineering Department at UCLA have developed a way to scan and decode barcodes 10,000 times faster than current available methods by way of an advanced scanning optical technique that is also applicable to displacement sensors.


Conventional barcode readers are optoelectronic devices that use lasers or camera scanners to illuminate the barcode patterns and then measure the reflections with a photodiode or charge coupled device (CCD) array. The barcodes consist of black bars, which absorb light, and white spaces, which reflect light. The scan rates of these devices are limited by the mechanical scanning speed of the laser or the refresh rate of the CCD array, and as such represent a limitation to the amount of information that can be coded and still decoded quickly. Similar technologies are used in displacement and position sensors and experience the same limitations.


Researchers at UCLA have identified a method for rapidly reading barcodes through a novel optical scanning, reflection, and detection technique that is 10,000 times faster than current methods. The setup is actually simpler than the commercial systems currently available, and obtains tremendous speed advantages by exploiting the spectral capability of the optical probe beam used in scanning the codes.


  • Barcode reader
  • Non-contact position and displacement sensors


  • Simpler system
  • Enables faster real-time measurements
  • Compatible with systems requiring large amounts of information contained in the code
  • Capable of acquisition speeds up to 25 MHz - 4 orders of magnitude faster than the state of the art

State of Development

Prototype manufactured and demonstrated

Related Materials

  • Amplified dispersive Fourier-transform imaging for ultrafast displacement sensing and barcode reading, Applied Physics Letters 93, 131109 (2008) [more]

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 8870060 10/28/2014 2009-045


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  • Jalali, Bahram

Other Information


devices, electrical, imaging, optics, process/procedure, dispersive Fourier-transform imaging, barcode, barcode reader

Categorized As