harnessing terahertz technology
Terahertz light - what is it?
Terahertz (THz) radiation (0.1 THz to 10 THz, 1 THz = 1012 Hz) lies between the infrared (night vision cameras) and microwave (operating range of mobile phones) region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The electromagnetic spectrum is shown below. The terahertz region is of particular scientific importance since it is able to probe both intramolecular (the vibrations within molecules) and intermolecular interactions (the vibrations between molecules). This makes it distinct from the near and mid infrared regions, which predominantly probe the intramolecular interactions.
Over approximately the last 30 years the terahertz signatures from interstellar gases and atmospheric constituents have been investigated, providing a valuable insight into the formation of interstellar gas clouds and the origins of our universe, in addition to highlighting changes in the composition of the earth's atmosphere. In the past decade scientists have developed new techniques for coherently generating and detecting terahertz light and are beginning to embrace the many potential terrestrial applications now available.
The principle application of terahertz light is spectral imaging technology, where the unique spectral signatures are opening up new and important fields of analysis and screening.
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