Physicists at the University of Sussex have developed an extremely thin terahertz semiconductor surface source with a large surface area. It consists of just a few atomic layers and is compatible with existing electronic platforms.
Terahertz sources emit short pulses of light that oscillate trillions of times per second. On this scale, they are too fast to be processed with standard electronics. At the same time, until recently. they were too slow to be processed with optical technology.
At the same time, terahertz radiation is of great importance for the development of ultrafast communication devices above the 300 GHz limit. For example, for 6G mobile phone technology. This is still fundamentally beyond the capabilities of modern electronics.
Scientists at the Emergent Photonics Laboratory (EPic) in Sussex, UK, have developed a terahertz semiconductor source. It is 10 times thinner than analogs, and its characteristics are better than previous models.
Thin layers can be easily stacked on top of existing items and devices. This means that the terahertz source can be placed on a wide variety of surfaces – even on a kettle or a work of art. The authors of the development note that this creates a huge potential for combating counterfeiting, the development of the Internet of things and next-generation electronics.
Terahertz (THz) radiation is a type of electromagnetic radiation, the frequency spectrum of which is located between the well-studied infrared and microwave ranges. The boundaries between these types of radiation are defined differently in different sources. The maximum permissible THz frequency range is 3 · 1011—3 · 1012 Hz, the wavelength range is 1—0.1 mm, respectively. Such waves are also called submillimeter waves. In English, this range is called the terahertz gap, indicating the weak development of technologies for the emission and manipulation of terahertz waves. Unlike its neighbors in the spectrum, generation of terahertz radiation remains a complex and expensive process even today.
T-rays (the second name for terahertz waves) easily penetrate many materials, and, unlike X-rays, are harmless due to the lack of ionizing properties. Therefore, for example, in medicine, terahertz tomographs are actively used, which allow examining the upper layers of the human body (skin, blood vessels and muscles). T-beams are used to scan people and baggage at airports, and to inspect the quality of various materials in industry.