Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ready to go: mobile terahertz devices

09.04.2008
Terahertz waves, which until now have barely found their way out of the laboratory, could soon be in use as a versatile tool. Researchers have mobilized the transmitting and receiving devices so that they can be used anywhere with ease.

Everybody knows microwaves – but what are terahertz waves? These higher-frequency waves are a real jack-of-all-trades. They can help to detect explosives or drugs without having to open a suitcase or search through items of clothing.

They can reveal which substances are flowing through plastic tubes. Doctors even hope that these waves will enable them to identify skin cancer without having to perform a biopsy. In the electromagnetic spectrum, terahertz waves are to be found between infrared radiation and microwaves. They can penetrate wood, ceramics, paper, plastic or fabrics and are not harmful to humans. On the other hand, they cannot pass through metal. This makes them a universal tool: They change when passing through gases, solid materials or liquids. Each substance leaves its specific fingerprint, be it explosives or water, heroin or blood.

So far, however, the technology has not made a breakthrough, as it is expensive and time-consuming to build the required transmitters and receivers. Now researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM are making the devices mobile. To generate terahertz waves, the scientists use a femtosecond laser which emits extremely short flashes of infrared light. To illustrate: In one femtosecond, a ray of light moves forward by about the width of a hair.

The pulsed light is directed at a semiconductor, where it excites electrons which then emit terahertz waves. In conventional equipment, the laser light moves freely through the room, which makes measurement inflexible and susceptible to vibrations. The Fraunhofer experts have taken a different approach, guiding the light through a glass fiber of a type similar to that used for transmitting data. “Our fiber-based system is so robust that we can simply plug it into a standard 240-volt socket,” says IPM expert Joachim Jonuscheit. This is not the only benefit: Until now the equipment has required a shock-proof base so that measurements are not falsified by vibrations. With the beam path inside a glass fiber, this is no longer necessary.

The advantages are obvious: The transmitters and receivers, which are about the size of beverage cans, are now attached to a flexible cable and can be positioned wherever desired. Since vibrations are no longer a problem, the device can even be deployed on the factory floor with fork-lift trucks driving around and heavy machinery vibrating. No inspection point is too difficult to access, as the glass fiber cables can bridge distances up to 25 meters.

Monika Weiner | alfa
Further information:
http://www.fraunhofer.de/EN/press/pi/2008/04/ResearchNews42008Topic7.jsp

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht APEX takes a glimpse into the heart of darkness
25.05.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

nachricht First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR
24.05.2018 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science

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: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>