Researchers at the National University of Singapore have achieved a breakthrough in Terahertz technology (THz) which would be helpful in making portable handheld sensors for detecting explosives, wearable sensors that can detect chemical agents or non-invasive imaging techniques that could detect tiny tumours in the body.
The technology of THz waves has already been utilised in the areas of cancer diagnosis, detection of drugs and explosives, coating analysis and quality control of integrated circuit chips.
Researchers at NUS have developed high-performance and low-power-driven THz emitters that could be produced at a low cost. They used a 12-nanometre-thin metallic film material, instead of the usual 500-micrometre-thick electro-optical crystal emitter, to develop THz wave emitters that can be powered by a lower-power laser, yet produce a higher power output.
They also came up with a new technique of producing the emitters by using a large wafer-scale film that can be deposited, and subsequently diced, for use in many ready-to-use devices.
The team was led by Associate Professor Yang Hyunsoo and Dr Wu Yang from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the NUS Faculty of Engineering and NUS Nanoscience and Nanotechnology institute. The project was carried out in collaboration with researchers from the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering at Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research, and China’s Tongji University.
Associate Professor Yang said, “Our invention is a big step forward in THz technology, and we believe that this will greatly accelerate its application in various fields.”