by Sheila Nason
Xi-Cheng Zhang (seated) is the J. Erik Jonsson 22 Distinguished Professor of Science and founding director of the Center for Terahertz Research. Rensselaer is investing heavily in the center, providing 5,000 square feet of laboratory space for a new THz laboratory in the Low Center for Industrial Innovation, as well as substantial money for renovation and equipment. Standing: doctoral student Shaohong Wang. Photo by Mark McCarty
Institute researchers are playing a key role in the quest to understand and use terahertz (THz) radiation, or T-rays. Now, they are developing THz technologies for uses that range from security searches for weapons and toxins, to improved detection of breast and skin cancer, to computers that send messages orders of magnitude faster than is now possible.
Although THz radiation always has been part of the electromagnetic spectrum, it received little attention until the early 1990s. THz radiation, which ranges from 100 gigahertz to 10 terahertz, is but one type of the radiation, or waves of energy, that fills the world around us. Radio waves, the lowest frequencies, carry sound through space. Moving up the spectrum to higher frequencies, the electronic waves are found that carry messages on computer chips and the microwaves that rapidly cook food. Higher still are visible rays (light), X-rays, and others.
While many of these radiation frequencies have been extremely useful, there has been no technology available to exploit the large band that lies between microwaves and visible lightfar infrared, or THz, radiation. That changed about 10 years ago.
Now he is the founding director of the Center for Terahertz Research, which brings together scientists from diverse disciplines to collaborate on T-ray technology in projects that range from basic science to the tech transfer needed to put THz products into homes, laboratories, and medical centers.
Other members are Michael Shur, the Patricia W. and C. Sheldon Roberts 48 Professor of Solid State Electronics and director of the Center for Broadband Data Transport Science and Technology; Roland Kersting, assistant professor of physics and a member of the information technology faculty; and Ingrid Wilke, assistant professor of physics. Participants include Toh-Ming Lu, the Ray Palmer Baker Distinguished Professor of Physics, and Gwo-Ching Wang, the chairwoman of the Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astrophysics.
Working together, the investigators at the Center
for Terahertz Research have made remarkable accomplishments, with breakthroughs
in microscopy, medical imaging, and new research to identify terrorist
threats, says Dean of Science Joseph Flaherty. We hope to
recruit additional faculty in terahertz science to expand the centers
range and influence and secure our leadership position.
|Rensselaer Magazine: March 2003|
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