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 Further Improvement of Qubit Lifetime for Quantum Computers
09.12.2016 | Forschungszentrum Jülich

nachricht Electron highway inside crystal
09.12.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

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: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

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...

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

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>