The research appears in the Nov. 18 issue of the journal Nature. It presents the emerging terahertz sensing industry with a unique new technology for transporting terahertz waves from a source and directing them at a particular target of interest. "Our wave guide opens up a whole new class of capabilities because it offers a way to get terahertz energy into places it could never reach before," said lead researcher Daniel Mittleman, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. "Wave guide technology frees you to look around corners and get into tight places."
Terahertz waves, also known as T-waves or T-rays, fall between microwaves and infrared light in the least-explored region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Metals and other electrical conductors are opaque to T-rays, but they can penetrate plastic, vinyl, paper, dry timber and glass like X-rays. Unlike X-rays, T-rays are not hazardous radiation, and in some cases T-wave sensors can reveal not only the shape of a hidden object but also its chemical composition. This unique combination of traits make T-waves perfect for applications like explosive detection, and several companies are already working on T-wave security applications, developing systems that can look inside people's shoes, bags and clothing for guns, bombs and contraband.
T-rays lie between microwaves, whose wavelengths measure from centimeters to millimeters, and light, with wavelengths measured in nanometers, or billionths of a meter. The gap between -- the so-called terahertz gap -- contains wavelengths from 30 to 3000 microns, or 100 GHz to 10 THz when measured in frequency. The terahertz gap has been called
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