Electromagnetic waves surviving for one millionth of a millionth of a second can hold the secret for light speed development in fields of drugs, medical imaging, and communication. Known as the terahertz waves, these need some large sized and costly equipment for use. A solution to this problem was recently suggested by a team of researchers working at the Princeton University that was able to shrink this equipment from a tabletop to a microchip level. It is a drastic improvement that now brings these equipment on the tip of fingers and can be used in much smaller level processes. The lead researcher of this team, Kaushik Sengupta, an electrical engineering assistant professor at Princeton, says, “The system is realized in the same silicon chip technology that powers all modern electronic devices from smartphones to tablets, and therefore costs only a few dollars to make on a large scale”
Terahertz waves happen to be a small part of electromagnetic spectrum fall between infrared and microwave wavelengths. These waves feature some very unique characteristics that make these highly interesting to the world of science. For example, these can pass through even the most non-conducting substance and can, thus, be used to see through boxes, clothing for all kind of security purpose. Since, these have much less energy as compared with X-rays, these do not cause any harm to DNA or tissues present in human body. These waves are also capable of interacting with various chemicals which makes them perfect to be used for characterization of particular substance.
The biggest challenge in this research was generation of a broad range of terahertz waves and interpretation of their interaction with an aim that demanded a complicated arrangement of devices like ultrafast lasers or heavy terahertz generators. Researchers have been trying to find out solution for this problem from a long time. The final breakthrough came in when Sengupta’s team reported that it is possible to reduce the size of terahertz generator and related devices to the parameter of a micro chip. Daniel Mittleman, a Brown University professor of engineering, adds, “This development is a very innovative piece of work, and it potentially has a lot of impact.”
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