Wednesday, March 16, 2016

CascadeMicrotech Blog-Terahertz Applications in Emerging Sciences

Research into new materials and semiconductor technology is pushing existing test frequency boundaries to the terahertz (THz) extremes. THz frequencies will be utilized by new applications for semiconductor materials, wider communication bandwidths, medical imaging, automotive, military and aerospace, and other emerging technologies.
Over the past five years, we have seen a revolution in THz applications. Advances in materials research provide new and higher power sources. The potential of THz advanced physics research and commercial applications have already been demonstrated. Terahertz technology is an extremely attractive research field now, with interest from diverse sectors of the market and several recent major technical advances have greatly extended the potential of THz systems. (Tiwari, 2014)
Until now, THz technologies were bulky and expensive systems used only for radio astronomy and lab applications. Today, the technical progress achieved recently makes it possible for THz technologies to be commercialized in numerous markets and for various applications.
  • Astronomy – THz can assist astronomers in scanning the universe. Telescopes based in space or even land-based telescopes assuming they are at very high altitudes or based in very dry locations to scan between 100 GHz and 1 THz frequencies for obtaining images from outer space.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) – According to Cisco, annual global IP traffic will pass the zettabyte threshold by the end of 2016, and will reach 2 zettabytes per year by 2019. And busy hour internet traffic will reach 1.4 petabytes per second (Pbps) in 2019. Traffic from wireless and mobile devices will exceed traffic from wired devices by 2017. As the demand for higher data rates increases, so does the need for a higher frequency band for being able to transmit huge amounts of data to address consumers’ hunger for ever-increasing data usage.
  • Chemical Fingerprinting – One of the first imaging applications using THz is chemical finger printing. With this application, we can scan over a range of frequencies, different materials or packages or objects and detect what is inside them without destroying the object or without having to open the packaging. THz could be used to detect illegal drugs hidden in packages or on people. Another use of chemical fingerprinting is detecting explosives or weapons on people, in cars or in packaging or in trash bins by the side of the road. The idea here is to source THz signal crossing a range of frequencies and look at the reflected signal coming from the object that can be used for detecting weapons and explosives and identifying their unique composition. So by looking at the signature of different materials you could tell whether SEMTEX, TNT, or RDX explosives hidden on a person or in a package.
  • Medical Imaging –Unlike an x-ray, THz is non-ionizing and far less hazardous for imaging human tissue, flesh and even dental use. It provides a higher resolution than x-ray and gives the ability to tell the difference in soft tissues so it is a great early detection for cancer cells as well as detecting cavities and issues with enamel layers with human teeth.

Significant progress has been made in terahertz band (300-3000 GHz) circuit fabrication, and continued growth in terahertz applications requires the availability of quality test and measurement equipment. Robust and calibrated on-wafer measurements of planar millimeter and sub-millimeter wave devices can significantly reduce the effort required to characterize wafers while increasing the accuracy of the measurement by eliminating errors and effects associated with fixtures. (Tonouchi, 2007)
Be sure to check out our T-Wave family of probes, and learn more about comprehensive THz probing solutions made available through our MeasureOne™ technology collaboration.
Larger Image:

(Padilla, 2014)
Works Cited:
Tiwari, P. (2014, August 12). 45.09% CAGR for Millimeter Wave Technology Market Forecast for 2020, Says a New Industry Research Report Available With PRNewswire. Web. 15 Oct 2015.
Tonouchi, M. (2007, February). Cutting-edge THz technology. Nature Photonics (Vol 1) Web.15 Oct. 2015.
Padilla, Willie. (2014, August 12). Spectrum of Electromagnetic Radiation. Digital image. Duke University, Pratt School of Engineering. N.p., Web. 15 Oct. 2015.
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