Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Piece of cake: Arrays of long nanotubes may help measure terahertz laser power

20.07.2011
Terahertz radiation can penetrate numerous materials—plastic, clothing, paper and some biological tissues—making it an attractive candidate for applications such as concealed weapons detection, package inspection and imaging skin tumors.

However, to date there is no standard method for measuring the absolute output power of terahertz lasers, one source of this type of radiation. Now, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have found that dense arrays of extra-long carbon nanotubes absorb nearly all light of long wavelengths, and thus are promising coatings for prototype detectors intended to measure terahertz laser power.*

The research is part of NIST's effort to develop the first reference standards for calibrating lasers that operate in the terahertz range, from the far infrared at wavelengths of 100 micrometers to the edge of the microwave band at 1 millimeter.

"There is no measurement traceability for absolute power for terahertz laser sources," NIST project leader John Lehman says. "We have customers asking for the calibrations. This coating looks viable for terahertz laser power detectors."

The coating, called a VANTA (vertically aligned carbon nanotube array), has several desirable properties. Most obviously, it is easy to handle. The nanotubes are tens of micrometers to over a millimeter long, so a dense layer is visible without a microscope. A chunk of VANTA can be cut, lifted, and carried like a piece of cake, making it easy to transfer from a silicon surface where the tubes are grown to a laser power detector.

Most importantly, the coating is very dark. The NIST team evaluated three VANTA samples with average lengths of 40 and 150 micrometers and 1.5 millimeters (mm) and found that longer tubes reflect less light. The 1.5 mm version reflects almost no light—just 1 percent at a wavelength of 394 micrometers. This result, the first-ever evaluation of a VANTA's reflectance at that terahertz wavelength, indicates that virtually all arriving laser light is absorbed, which would enable highly accurate measurements of laser power.

The 1.5 mm VANTA absorbs more light than comparable coatings such as gold black, but more work is needed to calculate uncertainties and determine effects of factors such as light angle. The project extends NIST's long history in laser power measurements and Lehman's recent advances in ultradark nanotube coatings.**

VANTAs also have desirable thermal properties. NIST researchers found that the material absorbs and releases heat quickly compared to other black coatings, which will make the detectors more responsive and quicker to produce signals. Otherwise, a coating thick enough to absorb long wavelengths of light would not efficiently transmit heat to the detector.

In developing the capability for terahertz laser radiometry, NIST is building a terahertz laser designed for routine measurements and a detector called a thermopile to measure the laser's power. This simple detector design produces a voltage when heat is applied to a junction of two dissimilar metals. NIST researchers used the VANTA to coat a prototype thermopile. Further research is planned to design detectors that might be used as reference standards.

* J.H. Lehman, B. Lee and E.N. Grossman. Far infrared thermal detectors for radiometry using a carbon nanotube array. Applied Optics. Posted online July 18, 2011.

** See NIST Tech Beat article "Extreme Darkness: Carbon Nanotube Forest Covers NIST's Ultra-dark Detector," August 17, 2010, at www.nist.gov/pml/optoelectronics/dark_081710.cfm.

Laura Ost | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nist.gov
http://www.nist.gov/pml/optoelectronics/dark_081710.cfm

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht The stacked colour sensor
16.11.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

nachricht Counterfeits and product piracy can be prevented by security features, such as printed 3-D microstructures
16.11.2017 | Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>