The research shows that these T-rays, electromagnetic waves in the far infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum that have a wavelength 500 times longer than visible light, can be guided along the surface of a specially designed material, known as a metamaterial. Being able to control T-rays in this way is essential if this type of radiation is to be used in many real world applications.
Researchers believe one of the areas with the most potential to use T-rays is security sensing and scanning, because many of the molecules in explosives and biological agents like anthrax strongly absorb this radiation. If T-rays are tightly confined on surfaces in contact with such molecules then the detection sensitivity is greatly increased.
Simple metallic surfaces have been used to control T-ray propagation before, but these only weakly guide the radiation, which extends as a weak field many centimetres above the surface of the material, thus rendering it less effective for sensing. The new study has now shown that a metamaterial surface draws T-rays close to it, creating a very strong field less than a millimetre above the surface. This greatly enhances the absorption by molecules on the surface making highly effective sensing techniques possible.
The study was performed by a team of UK and Spanish physicists led in the UK by Dr Stefan Maier from Imperial College London's Department of Physics, and Dr Steve Andrews of the University of Bath. Dr Maier explains why their metamaterial design is so important:
"T-rays have the potential to revolutionise security screening for dangerous materials such as explosives. Until now it hasn't been possible to exert the necessary control and guidance over pulses of this kind of radiation for it to have been usable in real world applications. We have shown with our material that it is possible to tightly guide T-rays along a metal sheet, possibly even around corners, increasing their suitability for a wide range of situations."
A metamaterial is a man-made material with designed electromagnetic properties which are impossible for natural materials to possess. The metamaterial created for this new research consists of a metallic surface textured with a two-dimensional array of pits. The researchers chose the dimensions of the pits so that T-rays are drawn closely to them as they travel along the surface.
Dr Andrews says that although the results of their study are very promising, more work is needed to refine the technology before such surfaces can be used for sensing applications. "At the moment only a small number of the frequencies that make up a pulse of T-ray radiation are closely confined by our metamaterial. More sophisticated designs are needed in order to make sure that the whole pulse is affected by the surface structure, so that absorption features of molecules can be clearly identified."
Dr Maier and Dr Andrews designed the metamaterial together with colleagues from Universities in Madrid and Zaragoza, with financial support from the US Air Force and the Royal Society. Their breakthrough is based on previous theoretical predictions obtained by the Spanish team together with Imperial's Professor John Pendry, published in Science in 2004.
Immortal quantum particles: the cycle of decay and rebirth
14.06.2019 | Technische Universität München
Small currents for big gains in spintronics
13.06.2019 | University of Tokyo
Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.
Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...
Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.
The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...
Discovery by Brazilian and US researchers could change the classification of two species, which appear more akin to jellyfish than was thought.
The tube anemone Isarachnanthus nocturnus is only 15 cm long but has the largest mitochondrial genome of any animal sequenced to date, with 80,923 base pairs....
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered a completely new way of capturing, amplifying and linking light to matter at the nanolevel. Using a tiny box, built from stacked atomically thin material, they have succeeded in creating a type of feedback loop in which light and matter become one. The discovery, which was recently published in Nature Nanotechnology, opens up new possibilities in the world of nanophotonics.
Photonics is concerned with various means of using light. Fibre-optic communication is an example of photonics, as is the technology behind photodetectors and...
Fraunhofer IZM is joining the EUROPRACTICE IC Service platform. Together, the partners are making fan-out wafer level packaging (FOWLP) for electronic devices available and affordable even in small batches – and thus of interest to research institutes, universities, and SMEs. Costs can be significantly reduced by up to ten customers implementing individual fan-out wafer level packaging for their ICs or other components on a multi-project wafer. The target group includes any organization that does not produce in large quantities, but requires prototypes.
Research always means trying things out and daring to do new things. Research institutes, universities, and SMEs do not produce in large batches, but rather...
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
14.06.2019 | Information Technology
14.06.2019 | Materials Sciences
14.06.2019 | Medical Engineering