Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

T-ray breakthrough could make detecting disease far easier

02.11.2006
A breakthrough in the harnessing of ‘T-rays’ - electromagnetic terahertz waves - which could dramatically improve the detecting and sensing of objects as varied as biological cell abnormalities and explosives has been announced.

Researchers at the University of Bath, UK, and in Spain have said they have found a way to control the flow of terahertz radiation down a metal wire. Their findings are set out in a letter published in the current journal Physical Review Letters.

Terahertz radiation, whose frequency is around one thousand billion cycles a second, bridges the gap between the microwave and infrared parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Materials interact with radiation at T-ray frequencies in different ways than with radiation in other parts of the spectrum, making T-rays potentially important in detecting and analysing chemicals by analysing how they absorb T-rays fired at them.

This would allow quality control of prescribed drugs and detection of explosives to be carried out more easily, as many complex molecules have distinctive signatures in this part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

T-ray applications are presently limited by the relatively poor ability to focus the rays, which is achieved using the conventional means of lenses and mirrors to focus the radiation. This limits the spot size of focused T-rays to a substantial fraction of a millimetre and this has made studies of small objects such as biological cells with high resolution are virtually impossible.

But in their work the researchers found that although ordinary metal wire would not guide T-rays very well, if a series of tiny grooves was cut into the wire, it would do so much more effectively. If such a corrugated metal wire is then tapered to a point it becomes possible to very efficiently transport radiation to a point as small as a few millionths of a metre across.

This might, for example, lead to breakthroughs in examining very small objects such as the interior of biological cells where it might be possible to detect diseases or abnormalities. T-rays could also be directed to the interior of objects which could be useful in applications like endoscopic probing for cancerous cells or explosive detection.

“This is a significant development that would allow unprecedented accuracy in studying tiny objects and sensing chemicals using T-rays" said Dr Stefan Maier, of the University of Bath’s Department of Physics, who leads the research.

“Metal wire ordinarily has a limited ability to allow T-rays to flow along it, but our idea was to overcome this by corrugating its surface with a series of grooves, in effect creating an artificial material or ‘metamaterial’ as far as the T-rays are concerned.”

“In this way, the T-rays can be focused to the tip of the wire and guided into confined spaces or used to detect small objects, with important implications for disease detection or finding explosive that are hidden.”

Dr Maier is working with Dr Steve Andrews at Bath, and with Professor Francisco García-Vidal, of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, and Luis Martín-Moreno, of the Universidad de Zaragoza-CSIC.

The project, which is funded by the Royal Society in the UK, the EU and the US Airforce, is one year into its three-year term. The researchers hope to produce a working model within a year.

Tony Trueman | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bath.ac.uk/news/articles/releases/t-rays021106.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Electrocatalysis can advance green transition
23.01.2017 | Technical University of Denmark

nachricht Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin
23.01.2017 | Ferdinand-Braun-Institut Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik

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: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

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...

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

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>