Continuous, Room Temperature Terahertz Source Created
As many science classes teach us, the part of the spectrum that we can see with our eyes is a small portion of the electromagnetic radiation. Beyond our sight are frequencies of light that can pass through otherwise opaque matter and carry information we must gather by other means. Naturally those other means require we have a source for the other radiation and researchers at Northwestern University have recently succeeded in demonstrating a continuous source of terahertz radiation that can operate at room temperature.
Terahertz radiation lies between microwaves and infrared light, and has the potential to peer through surfaces, detect chemicals, and diagnosis diseases. Because of its low energy, it is very safe to work with, especially compared to X-rays. Producing it however has been plagued by the need to cool the source, and adding the systems to accomplish that complicates the entire thing. The Northwestern researchers though are well experienced at producing quantum cascade lasers that produce mid-infrared light continuously at room temperature. They applied their skills and created a single chip to produce two wavelengths of mid-infrared light, which interfere to produce the terahertz light.
This discovery could have amazing impacts on the future as it makes terahertz radiation accessible like it never was before. Potentially it could be used in a variety of experiments as well as tools for biosensing and even security.
Source: Northwestern University