Exclusive Comments, Questions & Answers from Dr. Mona Jarrahi, Assistant Professor Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Dept. University of Michigan

My Note: This was first posted on 4/2/13

My Note: Recently I reached out to Dr. Mona Jarrahi, at the University of Michigan regarding her cutting edge work using surface plasmons to funnel or guide THz waves. Dr. Jarrahi, was kind enough to answer the inartful questions I asked her. Thank you Dr. Jarrahi!

Q # 1. My blog is currently featuring a video also prepared in the Terahertz Engineering department at the University of Michigan, by Dr. Karmal Sarabandi, which appears to also involve the use of THz technology, in combination with some type of advanced radar.
Can you tell us, if you work is related to his work, or have you taken separate roads to each reach your current advances?

Q # 2. Do you see any synergy, or possible joint applications, or additional developments in your use of surface plasmon waves in combination with his work?

Answer to Q #1, #2:
The best way I can differentiate Prof. Sarabandi’s work from ours is that his contributions are system-level & our contributions are device-level development. We developed much higher power terahertz sources and much higher sensitivity terahertz detectors compared to the state of the art that can be used in many imaging and sensing systems including the system developed by Prof. Sarabandi. In that sense, our work can be complementary if Prof. Sarabandi decides to operate at terahertz frequencies.

Q.# 3. Is there work underway in the University of Michigan Terahertz deparment with solid state THz, and in particular with CMOS technology?

Answer to Q #3:

Q #4. I asked the preceding question, because you appear to be using lasers which I (perhaps naively) understood was becoming somewhat outdated with the development of CMOS technology. Any comment?

Answer to Q #4:
I agree that using lasers for terahertz generation and detection is an OLD technology, but that doesn’t make it an OUTDATED technology. For example, transistor technology is a very old technology but not outdated as higher performance transistors (e.g. CMOS technology) are still being developed and more applications of transistors are coming up. Similarly, laser-based systems for terahertz generation and detection are very capable of offering performances that other technologies (including CMOS) cannot offer. That’s why, the most successful terahertz systems that have been commercialized are laser-based ones that offer sensitivities that other technologies don’t offer. Of course, CMOS technology offers low-cost, compact, and light-weight solution compared to laser-based technologies, but not the same performance level that laser-based systems offer. We should also not forget that the laser technology is very advanced now, providing compact and low-cost solutions. That’s why any new advancement in laser-based terahertz devices would have a big impact in the field.

Q # 5. Have you sought patents on your work with surface plasmons?

Answer to Q #5:
Yes, we have a pending patent filed last year

Q #6. Do you envision taking your advances into the market place in either a spin off company, or perhaps in conjunction with the prior University of Michigan THz spin off, Picometrix?

Answer to Q #6:
Yes, we are hoping to take our technology to the market place, but have not decided about the logistics yet.

Q #7. What is the time frame you anticipate in making your new discoveries commercially viable?

Answer to Q #7:
I don’t have a definite answer. But in case of partnering with another company with similar products, adding our technology to existing products would be very fast (a process of few months).

Q #8, Do your advances in any way involve the use of metameterials, graphene or compressive sensing?

Answer to Q #8:
Yes, in another recent work our group has demonstrated the most efficient and most broadband terahertz intensity modulator based on a special class of reconfigurable metamaterials. A publication on this work is currently under review.

Q # 9. About a year ago, you posted the following on You-Tube, "Terahertz electronics lab is very familiar with Picometrix and is already in close contact with them exchanging materials, supplies and ideas." Is this still the case today?

Answer to Q #9:
Yes, we are still in touch & they are also aware of our recent developments.

Q #10, Do I understand that it not necessary to employ any cryotechnology in generating your much more powerful, THz waves. Is this correct?

Answer to Q #10:
That’s true, all of our devices are room-temperature

Q #11, I had understood that THz was largely incapable of penetrating water, but recent press release suggest your technique overcomes this limitation. Is this correct, and if so, is the deeper penetration simply a factor of the power of the THz beam?

Answer to Q #11:
Yes, correct

Hope this helps.

Best Regards,
Mona Jarrahi
Assistant Professor
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Dept.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Address: 3243 EECSBuilding, 1301 Beal Avenue
Office # (734) 647 1799

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