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article imageTerahertz tech gets a major push

By Tim Sandle     Jun 26, 2014 in Science
A $1 million grant has been awarded by the W.M. Keck Foundation to Rice University to develop terahertz-based technology. This could enable a dramatic advance in wireless communications and other disciplines.
The grant is to explore the largely untapped terahertz region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Terahertz waves occupy the band from about 1 millimeter to 100 micrometers forms the band between microwave and infrared. Some scientists this area can lead to the development of improved communication technologies.
Potential benefits include much faster cellphone networks as well as sensors and detectors that may revolutionize medical imaging, security screening, and manufacturing quality control. Furthermore, many non-metallic materials are transparent to terahertz. This unique feature opens the door for many interesting applications, such as detecting chemicals and hidden explosives.
These developments, however, will not be easy. Terahertz signals can help identify substances from the way they interact with the beams, but the beams themselves do not travel as far in air as microwave signals. There are also other problems, primary among them the lack of a powerful, portable and practical source of terahertz.
If these issues can be overcome, then the promise of new powerful communications technology exists. The most popular route for addressing these issues is by detecting and manipulating terahertz using graphene and carpets of nanotubes. This is the area that Rice University will examine first.
More about Terahertz, Communications, Graphene
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