Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Photonics: strong vibrations

10.05.2012
A new approach to generating terahertz radiation will lead to new imaging and sensing applications. The low energy of the radiation means that it can pass through materials that are otherwise opaque, opening up uses in imaging and sensing — for example, in new security scanners. In practice, however, applications have been difficult to implement.

Terahertz (THz) electromagnetic radiation has promising properties for a wide range of applications. The low energy of the radiation means that it can pass through materials that are otherwise opaque, opening up uses in imaging and sensing — for example, in new security scanners.


Terahertz (THz) generation. A strong THz emission from the center of the device is observed in the tip-to-tip design (top). The electrodes are the black lines in the center of the device. The colours show the electric field from low (blue) to high (red) values. Much weaker electric fields and THz emission are seen in the interdigitated electrode design (bottom). Copyright : From Ref. 1 © 2012 H. Tanoto

In practice, however, applications have been difficult to implement. Terahertz radiation is a difficult portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to utilize. The frequencies of the region are higher than the mega and gigahertz frequencies achievable with conventional electronic circuits, but are too low-frequency to be compatible with optical instruments.

“The key challenges for THz technology are the development of a compact high power source and high sensitivity detector operating at room temperature,” explains Jinghua Teng of the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering. A recent discovery made by Teng’s team of a new, efficient protocol for THz wave generation that utilizes the enhancement of light between nanometer-scale electrical contacts may provide a solution.

One method for creating continuous THz radiation involves directing two optical laser beams of almost similar frequencies at a suitable nonlinear material, such as certain semiconductors causing light emission exactly at the frequency difference of the two laser beams. If this difference is sufficiently small, the radiation produced falls within the THz spectrum.

However, this process is rather inefficient and requires strong light fields. Fortunately, strong amplification of light can occur near small metallic objects that act as mini antennas. This antenna effect occurs with the small metal contacts that are needed to link the non-linear material that creates the THz emission — in the current case a variant of the common semiconductor gallium arsenide.

Normally, these electrical contacts are arranged such that they resemble the fingers of interlocked hands reaching into each other. However, the A*STAR researchers developed a revised design in which the electrodes are arranged tip to tip (see top of the above image). This means that the gap between the electrodes is much narrower and also results in the alignment of the electrical field with the THz light waves, which leads to a considerably stronger antenna enhancement.

Using the new arrangement the A*STAR team were able to generate THz radiation of about 100 times the strength of that produced by conventional systems. The work suggests that these devices can be miniaturized significantly for compact yet powerful THz sources. “This approach will greatly facilitate the applications of THz technology in areas such as gas sensing, non-destructive inspection and testing, high resolution spectroscopy, product quality monitoring and bio-imaging,” says Teng.

The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering.

References:

Tanoto, H. et al. Greatly enhanced continuous-wave terahertz emission by nano-electrodes in a photoconductive photomixer. Nature Photonics 6, 121–126 (2012).

Eugene Low | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.a-star.edu.sg
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Novel sensors could enable smarter textiles
17.08.2018 | University of Delaware

nachricht Quantum material is promising 'ion conductor' for research, new technologies
17.08.2018 | Purdue University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>