Humans are only able to perceive a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that surrounds us and permeates us all the time. One of the invisible areas of the spectrum is the terahertz range, between microwaves and infrared radiation, which have potential for sensors and medical devices. Actually making measurements with terahertz radiation is difficult though, but researchers at Boston College have developed a new, more efficient means of doing so.
The terahertz part of the spectrum is in just the wrong spot to interact with most modern technology. Some devices can capture part of the radiation, but tuning the waves properly is difficult, so new technologies are being studied. Among those technologies is a mask with the ability to quickly tune the radiation like a camera's aperture. The Boston researchers have designed such a mask using a semiconductor and a laser. With a micro-mirror device, the laser is used to encode instructions onto the semiconductor about how to react to the terahertz radiation. This makes the device a terahertz spatial light modulator with the ability to create a high resolution image in just seconds.
While this new mask could certainly have a great impact on the future of terahertz technology, the researchers are already working on new ideas to surpass it. With their better knowledge of the radiation, they are exploring metamaterials that could potentially do the same thing faster and more efficiently.
Source: Boston College