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Deng Tao’s Team Published Research Findings in PNAS

May 07, 2021      Author:

Recently, the research article titled “Human hand as a powerless and multiplexed infrared light source for information decryption and complex signal generation” by Prof. Tao Deng’s team from School of Materials Science and Engineering, SJTU was published on the website of PNAS, an internationally renowned academic journal. Prof. Deng Tao and Associate Researcher Shang Wen are the co-corresponding authors, and doctoral student An Shun is the first author of the paper.


In this research, a sign language recognition system is designed, which can generate 26 gestures and infrared diffraction patterns for each of them (totally 26) with only three fingers, and these 26 infrared diffraction patterns are one-to-one corresponding to 26 English letters. Compared with the traditional sign language recognition system that directly recognizes gesture contours, this research converts complex gestures into simple infrared diffraction patterns for recognition, which not only avoids the interference of ambient light and complex backgrounds on recognition, but also enjoys high robustness in gesture segmentation, feature extraction, etc. It can achieve real-time and fast sign language recognition by using simple algorithms.



This research demonstrates the application of hand as a natural and intelligent infrared (IR) light source in different systems. Integrating hands into these systems not only improves the sustainability of the system, but also further improves the intelligence and controllability of the system because the brain directly participates in the regulation of the light source. he level of intelligence of engineering systems, thereby promoting the use of human infrared light sources to replace artificial infrared light sources in more fields.

The research has been sponsored by the National Key Research and Development Program (No.2016YFB0402100), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.51521004), the 111 Project (No.B16032), the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission Innovation Project (No.2019-01-07-00-02) -E00069) and funding from the Hydrogen Science Center of Shanghai Jiao Tong University.


Author: An Shun, Nian Wenjie   

Source: School of Materials Science and Engineering, SJTU

Translated by Fu Jing

Proofread by Xiao Yangning, Fu Yuhe



With the increasing pursuit of intelligent systems, the integration of human components into functional systems provides a promising route to the ultimate human-compatible intelligent systems. In this work, we explored the integration of the human hand as the powerless and multiplexed infrared (IR) light source in different functional systems. With the spontaneous IR radiation, the human hand provides a different option as an IR light source. Compared to engineered IR light sources, the human hand brings sustainability with no need of external power and also additional level of controllability to the functional systems. Besides the whole hand, each finger of the hand can also independently provide IR radiation, and the IR radiation from each finger can be selectively diffracted by specific gratings, which helps the hand serve as a multiplexed IR light source. Considering these advantages, we show that the human hand can be integrated into various engineered functional systems. The integration of hand in an encryption/decryption system enables both unclonable and multilevel information encryption/decryption. We also demonstrate the use of the hand in complex signal generation systems and its potential application in sign language recognition, which shows a simplified recognition process with a high level of accuracy and robustness. The use of the human hand as the IR light source provides an alternative sustainable solution that will not only reduce the power used but also help move forward the effort in the integration of human components into functional systems to increase the level of intelligence and achieve ultimate control of these systems.