Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

T-rays technology could help develop Star Trek-style hand-held medical scanners

23.01.2012
Scientists have developed a new way to create Terahertz radiation - or T-rays, the technology behind full-body security scanners. They say their new, stronger and more efficient T-rays could be used to make better medical scanning gadgets and may one day lead to innovations similar to the “tricorder” scanner used in Star Trek.

In a study published recently in Nature Photonics, researchers from the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), a research institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore and Imperial College London in the UK have made T-rays into a much stronger directional beam than was previously thought possible and have efficiently produced T-rays at room-temperature conditions. This breakthrough allows future T-ray systems to be smaller, more portable, easier to operate, and much cheaper.

The scientists say that the T-ray scanner and detector could provide part of the functionality of a Star Trek-like medical "tricorder" - a portable sensing, computing and data communications device - since the waves are capable of detecting biological phenomena such as increased blood flow around tumorous growths. Future scanners could also perform fast wireless data communication to transfer a high volume of information on the measurements it makes.

T-rays are waves in the far infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum that have a wavelength hundreds of times longer than visible light. Such waves are already in use in airport security scanners, prototype medical scanning devices and in spectroscopy systems for materials analysis. T-rays can sense molecules such as those present in cancerous tumours and living DNA as every molecule has its unique signature in the THz range. T-rays can also be used to detect explosives or drugs, in gas pollution monitoring or non-destructive testing of semiconductor integrated circuit chips. However, the current continuous wave T-rays need to be created under very low temperatures with high energy consumption. Existing medical T-ray imaging devices have only low output power and are very expensive.

In the new technique, the researchers demonstrated that it is possible to produce a strong beam of T-rays by shining light of differing wavelengths on a pair of electrodes - two pointed strips of metal separated by a 100 nanometre gap on top of a semiconductor wafer. The unique tip-to-tip nano-sized gap electrode structure greatly enhances the THz field and acts like a nano-antenna that amplifies the THz wave generated. The waves are produced by an interaction between the electromagnetic waves of the light pulses and a powerful current passing between the semiconductor electrodes from the carriers generated in the underlying semiconductor. The scientists are able to tune the wavelength of the T-rays to create a beam that is useable in the scanning technology.

Lead author Dr Jing Hua Teng, from A*STAR’s IMRE, said: "The secret behind the innovation lies in the new nano-antenna that we had developed and integrated into the semiconductor chip." Arrays of these nano-antennas create much stronger THz fields that generate a power output that is 100 times higher than the power output of commonly used THz sources that have conventional interdigitated antenna structures. A stronger T-ray source renders the T-ray imaging devices more power and higher resolution.
Research co-author Stefan Maier, a Visiting Scientist at A*STAR’s IMRE and Professor in the Department of Physics at Imperial College London, said: "T-rays promise to revolutionise medical scanning to make it faster and more convenient, potentially relieving patients from the inconvenience of complicated diagnostic procedures and the stress of waiting for accurate results. Thanks to modern nanotechnology and nanofabrication, we have made a real breakthrough in the generation of T-rays that takes us a step closer to these new scanning devices. With the introduction of a gap of only 0.1 micrometers into the electrodes, we have been able to make amplified waves at the key wavelength of 1000 micrometers that can be used in such real world applications."

The research was led by scientists from A*STAR’s IMRE and Imperial College London, and involved partners from A*STAR Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R) and the National University of Singapore. The research is funded under A*STAR’s Metamaterials Programme and the THz Programme, as well as the Leverhume Trust and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in the UK.

Reference:

"Greatly enhanced continuous-wave terahertz emission by nano-electrodes in a photoconductive photomixer" is published in Nature Photonics by H Tanoto, JH Teng, QY Wu, M Sun, ZN Chen, SA Maier, B Wang, CC Chum, GY Si, AJ Danner and SJ Chua. DOI: 10.1038/nphot.2011.322. For a full list of author affiliations, refer to www.nature.com/naturephotonics.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Ms Jofelyn Lye

Senior Officer, Corporate Communications
for Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE)
3, Research Link
Singapore 117602
DID +65 6874 8349
Mobile +65 9647 2577
Email lyejml@scei.a-star.edu.sg

Mr Simon P Levey

Research Media Officer (Natural Sciences)
Imperial College London
DID +44 (0)20 7594 6702
Out of hours duty press officer
+44 (0)7803 886 248
Email s.levey@imperial.ac.uk

Eugene Low | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.a-star.edu.sg
http://www.researchsea.com
http://www.researchsea.com/html/article.php/aid/6868/cid/1?

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht Artificial intelligence may help diagnose tuberculosis in remote areas
25.04.2017 | Radiological Society of North America

nachricht Pharmacoscpy: Next-Generation Microscopy
25.04.2017 | CeMM Forschungszentrum für Molekulare Medizin der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory

26.04.2017 | Life Sciences

New survey hints at exotic origin for the Cold Spot

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA examines newly formed Tropical Depression 3W in 3-D

26.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>