Handheld terahertz device moves a step closer to reality

March 30th, 2008 - 1:41 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, March 30 (ANI): A collaboration between researchers from the Universities of Leeds and Harvard has brought a handheld terahertz device a step closer to reality.
As part of the collaboration, the Leeds team, led by Professors Edmund Linfield and Giles Davies, has recorded the highest operating temperature for a terahertz quantum cascade laser a technology that scientists believe may unlock the potential of the terahertz frequency range.
The key to exploiting terahertz technology is the production of handheld devices, and one specific type of laser the quantum cascade laser will allow the creation of a terahertz device that is small and portable.
According to Professor Linfield, “The potential uses for terahertz technology are huge, but at the moment, they are limited to niche applications in, for example, the pharmaceutical industry and astronomy, as the current systems on the market are expensive and physically quite large.”
“The availability of cheap, compact systems would open up a wide range of opportunities in fields including industrial process monitoring, atmospheric science, and medicine,” he explained.
Terahertz quantum cascade lasers are created by building layers of compounds of aluminium, gallium and arsenic, one atomic monolayer at a time, through a process known as molecular beam epitaxy.
But the only problem is that at the moment, this type of laser will only function at temperatures of minus 100degC.
So the challenge is to create a terahertz quantum cascade laser that will work at room temperature.
While the groups from Leeds and Harvard are still a way off from this, they have succeeded in increasing the laser’s operating temperature by nearly ten degrees, and believe they have the means to improve it yet further.
“We hope to obtain further advances by optimising the methods we used to create the device,” explains Professor Linfield.
“We have some radically new design ideas, and also believe that we can make significant improvements in the way we fabricate the lasers,” he added.
The equipment and expert use of it by Professor Linfield and his team enabled them to create a device of superior quality. They now believe that they can bring handheld terahertz technology a step closer still. (ANI)

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