THz Systems Program
The strong scientific interest in the terahertz field, in-between far-infrared optics and millimeter waves, can be understood from the high number of scientific questions in the area of solid state physics, biology, medicine, astronomy and nano-technology. The terahertz frequency range has for long been called the “terahertz-gap”, due to a lack of sources and receivers forresearch and application investigation. In laboratories, this terahertz-gap has been closed now and research in the areas of terahertz spectroscopy and imaging has demonstrated that it will be a game-changing sensor technology. Ex-vivo and in-vivo medical tissue analysis (e.g. tumor margin detection), gas analysis(e.g. air quality, breath analysis, combustion processes), non-destructive testing for agriculture/food processing and industrial in-line processmonitoring, high throughput security imaging systems for high risk public locations (e.g. airports, public transport, sports events), automotive radar, through-the-package analysis and 2D and 3D imaging were demonstrated and the number of applicationscontinues to grow. While on a laboratory scale, the Terahertz gap has been closed, no technology has shown how these results can be translated into highly miniaturized devices, required for deployment of the application opportunities. Existing technologies reach their individual limits in this endeavour. From the electronics point of view, the terahertz frequency range is extremely high and beyond the limiting frequencies of high-end semiconductor technologies. For the optical community, the terahertz frequency range is extremely low, below the far infrared. Laboratory-scale setups, like quantum cascade lasers, terahertz time-domain spectroscopy or free electron lasers are available and have resulted in the exploration of the terahertz field, but are not suited for the required miniaturization.
The Terahertz research program is exploring new technology options for the miniaturization of terahertz sources and receivers, in co-operation with various partners from universities and industry. At the same time the laboratory infrastructure required for this research is continuously built and made available for our partners.