Conceptual illustration of a THz vacuum electron amplifier (image taken from The 2017 terahertz science and technology roadmap S S Dhillon et al 2017 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 50 043001. Copyright IOP Publishing Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.)
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Science and technologies based on terahertz frequency electromagnetic radiation (100 GHz–30 THz) have developed rapidly over the last 30 years. For most of the 20th Century, terahertz radiation, then referred to as sub-millimeter wave or far-infrared radiation, was mainly utilized by astronomers and some spectroscopists. Following the development of laser based terahertz time-domain spectroscopy in the 1980s and 1990s the field of THz science and technology expanded rapidly, to the extent that it now touches many areas from fundamental science to 'real world' applications. For example THz radiation is being used to optimize materials for new solar cells, and may also be a key technology for the next generation of airport security scanners. While the field was emerging it was possible to keep track of all new developments, however now the field has grown so much that it is increasingly difficult to follow the diverse range of new discoveries and applications that are appearing. At this point in time, when the field of THz science and technology is moving from an emerging to a more established and interdisciplinary field, it is apt to present a roadmap to help identify the breadth and future directions of the field. The aim of this roadmap is to present a snapshot of the present state of THz science and technology in 2017, and provide an opinion on the challenges and opportunities that the future holds. To be able to achieve this aim, we have invited a group of international experts to write 18 sections that cover most of the key areas of THz science and technology. We hope that The 2017 Roadmap on THz science and technology will prove to be a useful resource by providing a wide ranging introduction to the capabilities of THz radiation for those outside or just entering the field as well as providing perspective and breadth for those who are well established. We also feel that this review should serve as a useful guide for government and funding agencies.