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Jefferson Lab experiment generates THz radiation 20,000 times brighter than anyone else

are a few tenths of a millimeter long, i.e. comparable to the wavelength of terahertz radiation. Sending any energetic electron beam through a magnetic field makes the beam emit radiation, so-called synchrotron radiation, a process that is greatly enhanced (coherent synchrotron radiation) when the length of the electron bunches is as short or shorter than the radiation wavelength of interest.

Researchers paving way for T-ray applications

For over a decade, scientists worldwide have been pressing the study of light in the terahertz region and looking for better ways to generate and use it. The light is also referred to occasionally as T-rays, T-light or T-lux. An August 16 Science magazine article, "Revealing the Invisible," reported that "much research is being directed toward the development of T-ray sources and detectors, particularly for applications in medical imaging and security scanning systems." Xi-Cheng Zhang, a T-ray expert at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, predicts that terahertz light will be "the future 'killer application' ... in biomedicine."

Picometrix Tochigi Nikon Corporation and Teraview -- a Cambridge, England, start-up associated with Toshiba -- have begun commercializing low-power terahertz systems. A few hospitals are already testing comparatively dim sources of terahertz light for detecting skin cancer.

Overall, though, terahertz light still constitutes a gap in the science of light and energy. It inhabits a region of the electromagnetic spectrum not that well understood. Now that a way to generate it at high power has been demonstrated, terahertz light can potentially extend and add widely to the wave-based technologies that have defined the last 150 years: from the telegraph, radio and X-rays to computers, and cell phones.

Up to this point, no other method of generating terahertz waves had yielded more than two-thousandths of a watt in power. But Williams and his colleagues extracted nearly 20 watts --
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Contact: Linda Ware
ware@jlab.org
757-269-7689
DOE/Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility
27-Jan-2003


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