Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Getting warmer – Leeds research brings terahertz closer to everyday use

31.03.2008
A collaboration between the Universities of Leeds and Harvard has turned the heat up on terahertz technology, bringing a handheld terahertz device a step closer to reality.

The Leeds team, led by Professors Edmund Linfield and Giles Davies from the Faculty of Engineering, has recorded the highest operating temperature for a terahertz quantum cascade laser – a technology that scientists believe may unlock the potential of the terahertz frequency range.

Professor Linfield explains: “The potential uses for terahertz technology are huge, but at the moment they are limited to niche applications in, for example, the pharmaceutical industry and astronomy, as the current systems on the market are expensive and physically quite large. The availability of cheap, compact systems would open up a wide range of opportunities in fields including industrial process monitoring, atmospheric science, and medicine.”

Key to exploiting terahertz technology is the production of handheld devices, and one specific type of laser – the quantum cascade laser – will allow the creation of a terahertz device that is small and portable. The problem is, at the moment this type of laser will only function at temperatures of minus 100°C.

So the challenge is to create a terahertz quantum cascade laser which will work at room temperature. While the groups from Leeds and Harvard are still a way off from this, they have succeeded in increasing the laser’s operating temperature by nearly ten degrees, and believe they have the means to improve it yet further.

“We hope to obtain further advances by optimising the methods we used to create the device,” explains Professor Linfield. “We have some radically new design ideas, and also believe that we can make significant improvements in the way we fabricate the lasers.”

Terahertz quantum cascade lasers are created by building layers of compounds of aluminium, gallium and arsenic one atomic monolayer at a time, through a process known as molecular beam epitaxy. Leeds’ Faculty of Engineering is one of a small number of laboratories in the world actively ‘growing’ terahertz quantum cascade lasers at this time, using a molecular beam epitaxy system purchased through the Science Research Infrastructure Fund (SRIF).

In molecular beam epitaxy, the chemicals evaporate from heated cells, and land on a heated, rotating, substrate. Minute changes in temperature, combined with a set of shutters that block the chemical beams, enable the team to adjust the amount of each chemical which is deposited on the substrate, gradually building up the layers they need. To ensure the device works perfectly, there must be no pollutants, so the process is carried out under ultra-high vacuum conditions, approaching the vacuum levels found in outer space.

The equipment and expert use of it by Professor Linfield and his team enabled them to create a device of superior quality. They now believe that they can bring handheld terahertz technology a step closer still.

The research, carried out in collaboration with the group of Professor Frederico Capasso at Harvard University, and supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is published in Optics Express ( Vol. 16, Issue 5, pp. 3242-3248).

Jo Kelly | alfa
Further information:
http://www.leeds.ac.uk/media/press_releases/index.htm

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht SF State astronomer searches for signs of life on Wolf 1061 exoplanet
20.01.2017 | San Francisco State University

nachricht Molecule flash mob
19.01.2017 | Technische Universität Wien

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: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>