Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

From unconventional laser beams to a more robust imaging wave

08.08.2016

Here's the scene: a suspicious package is found in a public place. The police are called in and clear the area. Forced to work from a distance and unable to peer inside, they fear the worst and decide to detonate the package.

New research at the University of Rochester might help authorities in the not-too-distant future be better informed in tackling such situations and do so more safely. Working with a special type of electromagnetic wave--called terahertz (THz)--that's capable of sensing and/or imaging objects behind barriers, the team demonstrated that they can detect a THz wave at a distance of up to 100 feet.


Creating a more robust terahertz wave from an Airy beam.

(Graphic by Michael Osadciw/University of Rochester)

The THz wave created by the researchers is more than five times stronger than what is generated by more conventional means, leading them to believe that a THz wave--and the image of a hidden object--can be detected at much greater distances in the future.

The research project was led by Kang Liu, a PhD student in optics, and Xi-Cheng Zhang, the M. Parker Givens Professor of Optics and the director of the Institute of Optics, in collaboration with a group from Greece led by Tzortzakis Stelios. The results have been published in the journal Optica.

"The use of an unconventional laser beam in our project goes beyond a scientific curiosity," said Zhang. "It makes possible the remote sensing of chemical, biological, and explosive materials from a standoff distance."

THz waves, which fall between microwave and the infrared band on the electromagnetic spectrum, can penetrate certain solid objects that are opaque to visible light to create images of what is hidden from view. Unlike traditional x-rays, the waves do so without damaging human tissue.

All that makes THz waves a promising tool for Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies. But before THz waves can be widely used, a number of obstacles need to be overcome, including how to make them more effective over greater distances.

One of the drawbacks is that the waves are absorbed by water molecules in the air and weaken significantly over longer distances, making them generally ineffective. One solution is to generate the THz waves near the target, so that they have only a short distance to travel. It's also important that the waves are intensive, because, as Liu points out, "The stronger the terahertz wave, the more work it can do."

The key to their results was the use of a specific exotic laser beam--called a ring-Airy beam--to generate a THz wave that has 5.3 times the pulse energy of THz waves created with standard Gaussian beams.

Ordinary beams of light spread out as they travel, but that's not the case with ring-Airy beams, which curve toward the center from all points.

To begin the process, Liu directed a laser beam onto a spatial light modulator (SLM), which formed the ring-Airy beam. As the name indicates, the beam is circular with a hollow center. Instead of spreading out as it travels, the beam collapsed inward, creating an intensely excited region of free electrons--called a plasma. Those electrons, in turn, generated the THz wave, which would be capable of penetrating a nearby target and reflecting images or providing vital chemical information about what is hidden.

"When the target is a suspected explosive device, it's important to get the work done at a safe distance," said Liu. "We believe our method could help THz remote sensing from more than 100 feet away by providing a more robust and flexible way to generate THz remotely."

The modulator allowed the researchers to change the size of the ring-Airy beam and fine-tune the dimensions of the plasma that is created. The next step, as Liu sees it, is to manipulate ring-Airy beams to create stronger THz waves over greater distances.

Funding for the research project was provided by the US Army Research Office, "Laserlab-Europe", and the General Secretariat for Research and Technology Aristeia project "FTERA."

Media Contact

Peter Iglinski
peter.iglinski@rochester.edu
585-273-4726

 @UofR

http://www.rochester.edu 

Peter Iglinski | EurekAlert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Shape matters when light meets atom
05.12.2016 | Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore

nachricht Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light

05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>