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Where optics meets electronics: recent progress in decreasing the terahertz gap
J. M. Chamberlain Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. A 2004 362, doi: 10.1098/rsta.2003.1312, published online 15 February 2004
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Chamberlain Department of Physics. 2013 10.1312 Where optics meets electronics: recent progress in decreasing the terahertz gap By J. 1000–30 µm (wavelength). quantum cascade lasers. history of technology 1. Durham DH1 3LE. H. Soc.5 meV (energy) or 14–480 K (temperature). if the region is approached from the high-energy (infrared) side. Trans. expensive and incoherent. Recent advances in source and coherent-detection technology have enabled advances to be made in a wide range of applications. If the region is approached from the low-energy (millimetre wave) side. The limitations of present-day technology are discussed and some future possible applications are considered. then there is also the diﬃculty of realizing appropriate circuits to handle signals at this high frequency. Until recently.2003. largely because of the diﬃculty in providing a suitable source of radiation.uk) Published online 17 December 2003 The terahertz region of the electromagnetic spectrum oﬀers considerable opportunities for exploitation.royalsocietypublishing. between (on the one hand) optical and (on the other) electronic sources of radiation. there are many important reasons why the terahertz (THz) range is of intrinsic scientiﬁc interest and is rich in actual or potential applications. summarizes the current state of system technology and outlines a number of current system applications. This appears to be the ﬁrst explicit acknowledgement of the existence of a technology gap in the electromagnetic spectrum. 1. 199–213 c 2003 The Royal Society 199 . medical imaging. bulky.Downloaded from rsta. and bring them closer together’ (Rubens & Nichols 1897). Such sources as are available are usually weak. R. the attempt has often been made to extend our knowledge over the wide region that separates the two phenomena. UK (martyn. A (2004) 362. Rubens and E. Phil. M. wireless communications.org on January 22. The University of Durham. Despite these concerns. this region of the spectrum has resisted attempts to harness its potential for application.chamberlain@durham. Lond. high-frequency devices.25–37. One contribution of 16 to a Discussion Meeting ‘The terahertz gap: the generation of far-infrared radiation and its applications’. including medical imaging. Nichols wrote ‘since we have become accustomed to think of waves of electrical energy and light waves as forming component parts of a common spectrum. Introduction In 1897.1098/rsta. This article reviews the historical development of the ﬁeld.ac. then the analogous problem is the design of optical systems with dimensions close to those of the wavelength concerned. Keywords: terahertz. The limits of this region are generally taken to be 300 GHz to 10 THz (frequency). F.
Downloaded from rsta. suﬀers less Rayleigh scattering than infrared radiation and interacts strongly with water but passes through a few millimetres of biological tissue and 1 km of mist. and also between wave and quantum analyses of device performance.org on January 22. 5 mm. who demonstrated that electromagnetic waves could remotely ring a bell and explode gunpowder (Daily Chronicle 1896. we shall examine the current performance of exemplar systems operating at THz frequencies and consider some emerging applications of THz technology. and a substantial fraction of the luminosity of the Big Bang lies in the THz region.g. Historical background Maxwell’s development of equations predicting the existence of electromagnetic radiation. together with heated (incoherent) sources of radiation. Soc. It is noteworthy that a variety of important natural phenomena involve the THz frequency range. Rubens and his co-workers in Berlin were developing bolometric detection techniques. molecular rotations and librations. penetrates many visually opaque materials. 1927). as they may be the ﬁrst example of the exploitation of a nonlinear device characteristic (of a ‘single-point iron receiver’) in radiation detection. On the other side of the THz gap. and was able to ﬁt his own results directly to the expression that Planck had proposed (Kimmitt 2003). This work was facilitated by developments in component technology. including improved radiometer receivers and spark-gap (Hertzian) oscillators. Nichols was conducting a new series of experiments with short electric waves. Of particular note is the work of J. Phil. In particular. and explore some recent technological developments that promise to close it. Nichols clariﬁed the problem for Planck in October 1900. before describing the current state of THz technology from the viewpoint of sources and systems. C. therefore. 6 THz. the Restrahlung eﬀect in various materials was used to select radiation with wavelengths of up to 30 µm. The results obtained by Rubens & Nichols proved to be of immense value to Planck in the formulation of his distribution law: it had been noted by Planck that the Wien displacement law did not appear to hold in the far infrared part of the spectrum. In this paper. Lond. A (2004) . There are. We shall then consider some of the diﬀerences in approach to propagation and to device description that are manifested at THz frequencies. The shortest wavelength used in Bose’s experiments was ca. Trans. In the experiments of Rubens & Nichols (1897). powerful motivations for the development of systems for the generation. R. Bose. 2013 200 J. the value of thermal energy (kB T ) at room temperature (300 K) corresponds to ca. detection and manipulation of radiation at THz frequencies. cited in Emerson (1997)). are of great interest. so biological processes might be regarded as THz phenomena. Following World War I. thus providing chemical ‘signatures’. For example. we shall ﬁrst review some historical aspects of the ﬁeld. this region may be viewed as a no man’s land between electronics and optics.royalsocietypublishing. and Hertz’s subsequent practical demonstration of the phenomenon led to considerable experimental activity in radio science. Many material excitations lie in the THz range. in particular. polarizers (consisting of Bradshaw’s Railway Timetable interleaved with tinfoil). spark generators and point-contact detectors (Bose 1897. horns. 2. Finally. The latter. Bose developed a range of components for the millimetre wave including transmitter antennas. Chamberlain THz radiation is non-ionizing. M. we shall discuss the fundamental physical constraints that lead to the existence of the gap. e.
1975) explored the extent of cosmic background radiation between wavelengths of 2. Once again. Detection. THz source technology: current state of the art As noted above. backward wave oscillator (BWO) sources were being developed (Kompfner & Williams 1953). 2002). The band architecture and impurity properties of semiconductors were widely explored at that time using a BWO. with a reported (albeit weak) output above 700 GHz (Brown et al . Lond. Soc. in particular. Ridley & Watkins 1961). Chamberlain et al . which now operate at frequencies of up to 325 GHz (Eisele 1998. such as electron tunnelling. at best. the approach was used to great eﬀect in spectroscopy. 1961) were successfully used to probe plasma diagnostics in the 100–1500 µm band. made much progress: it is noteworthy that the Golay cell (Golay 1947). Sollner et al . these tools have remained of great value to experimentalists in the ﬁeld: their further improvement or miniaturization may be enhanced by the use of micromachining techniques and the deployment of ﬁeld-emitter tip sources (Thorpe et al . the lack of appropriate fundamental sources of radiation led to widespread use of multiplier-based technology (Gordy et al . a particularly good example is provided by the work of Jones & Gordy (1964). Remarkable instrumental progress by Martin (1967) was augmented by developments in computing techniques. This period also saw advances in solid-state oscillators. with a strong impetus provided by research needs in astronomy and condensed-matter physics. and used this to investigate the rotational spectra of HCl and HBr at 600 GHz.org on January 22. Nevertheless. 1972). developed shortly after World War II. Nichols & Tear (1923) isolated radiation with wavelengths as short as 1. and their operational frequency range was subsequently extended to 1 THz and above. 2013 Recent progress in decreasing the terahertz gap 201 Using interferometric methods. 1953). The Zero Energy Thermonuclear Assembly (ZETA) experiments of the late 1950s and early 1960s also provided a considerable opportunity for THz science: the emission of THz radiation from a heated plasma delivered temperature and density information. Purely quantum eﬀects. 3. neither solely electronic nor solely optical devices have existed that can act as inexPhil. which enabled the full advantages of Fourier transform spectroscopy to be realized. There then followed a continual progress and development in technology for both sources and detectors.8 mm. is still in widespread use today. the THz range bridges the electronics–photonics gap: until recently. R. On the lower-energy side of the gap. were at that time being harnessed in the tunnel diode (Burrus 1961): a development of this device is the resonant tunnel diode. The 1960s and 1970s were a time of considerable progress in the ﬁeld of THz technology. the square root of the harmonic number concerned (Page 1958). which remains the ‘fastest electron device’. Trans. 1991.5 mm and 600 µm using newly developed photoconductive detectors (Kimmitt 1970). Eisele & Kamousa 2003). the most notable being the transferred electron devices (Hilsum 1962. interferometer and molecular-gas laser sources (Chamberlain & Stradling 1969. Richards and co-workers (Woody et al . A (2004) .royalsocietypublishing. Golay cell detection and diﬀraction grating dispersion (Harding et al . At that time. A complete historical review of the ﬁeld has recently been given by Kimmitt (2003). especially following wartime advances in radar. who generated the 12th harmonic of a 50 GHz signal. These comments conclude this brief background survey.Downloaded from rsta. 1989). The eﬃciency of resistive multipliers had been shown to be.
eﬃcient. Gunn diodes and so on. considerable work by Schomburg and co-workers (Ryndyk et al . The possibility of chaining multipliers to deliver high frequencies in the THz region is of great appeal. A simple argument (Chamberlain & Miles 1997) shows that these factors lead to power output that falls as the square of the frequency. the highest recorded frequency from a transit time device is 712 GHz (Brown et al . Trans.royalsocietypublishing. the need for improved mechanical performance and repeatability of design has resulted in a greater use of substrateless planar devices (Mehdi et al . A more relevant upper technology limit is set by Eisele (1998. 2003) shows that the route to the development of a THz Bloch oscillator source requires the appropriate design of an external circuit that would ensure suppression of the domain instability in the device. In this approach. 2003). and the third is the maximum sustainable electric ﬁeld within the material before breakdown occurs. More comprehensive reviews of THz technology are provided. Recent developments in materials such as GaN (Manfra et al . 2013 202 J. 1999). with power output of the order of 1 mW: this level of power is suitable for many practical applications. R. although to date no practical THz source has yet been realized. At present. Phil. and has remained the preferred approach in many situations where reliability and noise performance are critical concerns. the second factor is the saturation velocity of carriers in the device. In this section. Nevertheless. M. from the electronics and optics perspectives. suggest that useful THz power might be obtained at frequencies above 325 GHz. such as transistors.org on January 22. Eisele & Kamousa 2003). Recent editions (Chamberlain & Miles 1997. 1991) with nanowatts of output power. The phenomena of Bloch oscillations in a superlattice (Esaki & Tsu 1970) and of plasma carrier instabilities in the channel of an FET (Dyakonov & Shur 1993) are examples of such novel concepts. multiplication of a lower frequency remains a proven strategy for achieving THz frequencies. together with modulators. As remarked earlier. It should be stressed that ampliﬁers. compact or coherent sources. weight and pump-power consumption. as is the case in space-borne applications. In the case of the semiconductor superlattice. Lond. Although the use of whisker-based technology (Zimmerman 1998) for resistive multipliers is widespread. which has greater dielectric strength and a high optical phonon frequency. by Siegel (2002) and Mittleman (2002). such as the length of the channel in a ﬁeld eﬀect transistor (FET) or the length of the region-sustaining domains in a Gunn diode. Schottky diodes are integrated with a matching circuit. especially in the communications ﬁeld: to date. such as imaging or communications. although there is a consequent penalty in terms of increased physical size. typically 105 m s−1 . are essential components needed to realize practical THz-frequency systems. This is a consequence of several factors: the ﬁrst of these is the existence. Chamberlain pensive. 2001b) provide more general overviews of the ﬁeld. This is clearly a very promising possibility for electronic sources that might also lead to practical ampliﬁers at THz frequencies. there have been very few developments indeed in this area. it would appear that to increase significantly the power of fundamental solid-state electronic sources above 300–400 GHz will require the exploitation of alternative device principles. Soc. who developed Gunn sources working in higher harmonic modes at frequencies of up to 325 GHz. of a characteristic transit distance. Miles et al . exhibit a decrease of output power with increasing frequency. A (2004) . we shall review some recent developments in THz sources and outline the current status of detection techniques. respectively. It is well known that fundamental electronic sources of power.Downloaded from rsta. in all of these devices.
and that might lead to the replacement of mechanically scanned delay lines.5 THz (Martin et al . It should be noted that device eﬃciency improves considerably as the temperature is lowered. The power levels generated in pulsed imaging systems are of the order of microwatts. e 1999) and high-frequency operation (Saglam et al . Lond. there are no completely validated physical models to assist device design in the THz region. The most extreme development in this direction has been the synthesis of membrane devices. especially through the use of advanced semiconductor structures. and heat management is a central concern in system design. Nevertheless.g.g. Impulsive optical approaches to the generation of electromagnetic radiation in the THz region have continued with great success since the initial studies of Smith & Auston (1988) and Auston & Nuss (1988) describing the use of photoconducting antennas and of electro-optic processes. although power approaching 1 mW is indicated in systems that incorporate an ampliﬁed near-infrared laser source.org on January 22. The use of varactor technologies. and considerable challenges remain in this area. 50 fs) pulses from a near-infrared laser (e. The issues relate to the time taken to ﬁll and empty the depletion region with electrons in comparison with the length of the irradiation cycle and the extent to which scattering takes place during that time. Soc. THz pulses are generated within the photoconverter (by diﬀerent physical processes in the two cases cited) and are then focused onto the device under test. In these structures. THz radiation that has interacted with the sample (by scattering. At present.Downloaded from rsta. for example the heterostructure barrier varactor (HBV) (Rydberg et al . has also led to considerable success: the symmetric shape of the capacitance–voltage characteristic in the HBV makes it ideally suited for operation in tripler circuits. operating to 1 THz and beyond. a doubler operating to 1. respectively. Further details of this approach. the chip is fabricated on a 3 µm thick GaAs membrane. operating at 800 nm) impinge on a photoconverter. Using this technology. it is of interest to consider the electron dynamics in the mesoscopic devices used here for multiplication. the output power in the THz range appears suﬃcient to pump hot-electron bolometer mixers at frequencies of up to 1. 2013 Recent progress in decreasing the terahertz gap 203 and considerable amounts of GaAs substrate are removed in order to improve device parasitics. 2001. in order to increase the output power and improve penetration depth. Finally. 2001) and a Schottky diode mixer for 2. Other technological advances are taking place in the implementation of signal-processing strategies that can enable larger images to be obtained.royalsocietypublishing. frequency coverage and acquisition time for images. and detected using a coherent-detection scheme. (2002). where high eﬃciencies (M´lique et al . A (2004) . which can result in signal-to-noise performance which equals (at a higher frequency) that of a conventional millimetre-wave vector analyser. Trans. Particular interest in this technique is now concerned with improving the eﬃciency and frequency range of the photoconverter. 1990). Phil.5 THz (Bruston et al . Mittleman 2002. The THz beam or (more usually) the sample can be scanned spatially.5 THz at room temperature. absorption or reﬂection) is collected. Zhang 2002). The essentials of the system are as follows: short (e. 2003) have been reported. is well illustrated by the work of Zhao et al . R. over a wide spectral range and with spatial scanning. Haring Bolivar 1998. The embodiment of these ideas into a practical system that delivers information on the absorption and refractive index of a sample. have been given by several authors (Chen et al . such as a photoconducting antenna or an electro-optic crystal. 2001) have been constructed.
2002) special o design features ensure fast depletion of the lower levels through suitably engineered active regions. the close spacing of energy levels. (2003) and Barbieri et al . see Kimmitt 1970). and also that the emitted radiation is extracted as eﬃciently as possible through the use of waveguides built into the device. and with potential applications in quantum cryptography and communications. on a scale that is comparable to or smaller than the value of kB T at room temperature and by the increased diﬃculty of using an optical waveguide technology. Trans. 1998). 2003) from heavy hole transitions in Si/Si–Ge alloys represents an important step towards realization of THz lasers that are compatible with silicon logic circuits. this laser had a low eﬃciency and cryogenic cooling was required. 2000). The promise of this approach to THz generation is that it may lead to compact. the QCL is a unipolar device. The materials requirements for photomixers used in CW generation are somewhat diﬀerent from those of the photoconverter used in the pulsed imaging arrangement. M. Chamberlain As a complement and alternative to impulsive generation by optical means. again. with lowest frequencies of 3. integrated semiconductor diode and photomixer sources. which uses transitions between optically excited hydrogen-like impurity centres but. Optically pumped moleculargas lasers (Button et al . Williams et al . Phil. For a device operating at THz frequencies (K¨hler et al . but a signiﬁcant practical factor is that of heating of the semiconductor layer used for the mixing process. Finally. A related development is the THz silicon laser (Orlova et al .5 mW and 2 mW. The successful transfer of the QCL design to longer wavelengths has encountered many diﬃculties raised by the increased eﬃciency of non-radiative processes. In contrast to conventional semiconductor lasers. Molecular-gas lasers operating at THz frequencies have been widely used for several decades (for an early review. 1991) relied on the inversion of the hole population in subbands of p-Ge. (2003) describe pulsed and CW operation of QCLs. Electrons move through a potential staircase of coupled quantum wells: quantum conﬁnement in the device causes the conduction band to be split into subband levels. ﬁrst realized at wavelengths in the mid-infrared (Faist et al . The ﬁrst all-solid-state THz laser (Keilmann et al . the observation of electroluminescence (Paul et al . Lond. The quantum cascade laser (QCL). although CW operation of this device has been reported (Brundermann et al . where light is generated by the radiative recombination of conduction-band electrons with valence-band holes.Downloaded from rsta. 2013 204 J. diﬀerence-frequency mixing of two lasers to produce a tunable coherent output (Brown et al .royalsocietypublishing. such as lift-oﬀ and transfer techniques onto a host substrate.4 THz. Siebert et al . Soc. Peytavit et al . 1992) developed considerably in the last decade. presents a signiﬁcant breakthrough in THz technology.org on January 22. R. 1984) are also in widespread use in the laboratory. and laser action takes place when population inversion is achieved in this subband structure. Using advanced semiconductor processing methods. The output powers are 2. and miniaturized versions have been developed for space-borne applications. respectively. low-cost.4 THz and 4. 1994). the presence of lattice absorption. only emits low power and operates at low temperatures. (2002) demonstrate that the performance of a vertically integrated photoconductive mixer can deliver power of the order of a few microwatts over a broadband through the use of a spiral antenna and good thermal management. the signiﬁcant role of free carrier absorption. (2002) have described a continuous wave (CW) system operating at 1 THz and compared the signal-to-noise properties and image acquisition time with a pulsed imaging system. A (2004) .
or the other. Soc.Downloaded from rsta. Th. Thorpe et al . it is appropriate to comment on the potential of vacuum electronics in the generation of THz radiation. the Smith–Purcell device (Urata et al . Particular interest now centres on the development of much more compact vacuum sources using new developments in micromachining. in astronomical applications where very low loss is required. R. such as backshorts. Interest in this problem was further stimulated recently when attempts were made to observe photo-assisted resonant tunnelling eﬀects under conditions of low and high THz electric ﬁeld (Allen et al . Phil. 2003). 2001a). A recent alternative. The choice of which of these alternatives to deploy. the possible future development of small. he ﬁnds. (2003) have described the broadband emission of high-power (20 W) THz radiation from relativistic electron bunches in an accelerator and have commented on the similarities in the operation of this source with a conventional laser-driven source.g.g. Furthermore. A related development. Quasi-optical techniques were ﬁrst described by Righi (1897). is still an open one at THz frequencies. Wenckebach (2003. 2002). However. i. The key to understanding when one. that each device shows less noise in those frequency regimes where their operational eﬃciency is poor. 1998) or fabricated using advanced photoresist techniques (Miles et al . is to fabricate transmission lines from superconducting elements (Withington et al . W. Schottky) and quantum (e. 1998) and the free-electron laser (Ramian 1992). low-cost THz systems for use in medicine or security indicates that the latter approach is likely to be favoured in the future. Finally. A (2004) . 2002. energy passes from an electron beam into an electromagnetic ﬁeld in the presence of a periodic structure. photo) detectors using both approaches. Trans. personal communication) has analysed the noise performance of classical (e. quasi-optics or guided waves. The task of system design using this approach is rendered easier through the use of Gaussian optics and matrix techniques to describe the transfer function of the complete system.g.e. the BWO). for a recent review see Goldsmith (1997).royalsocietypublishing. and in electron sources using ﬁeld emitter tip or nanotube technologies (Manohara et al .org on January 22. is to propagate THz radiation along waveguides that have been etched in silicon (Lubecke et al . made possible through the use of micromachining techniques. Lond. 4. as it is in this region that competing mechanisms come into play. description is more appropriate is to compare the size of the (THz) photon energy with the voltage scale of the nonlinearity of the device characteristic. 2001. Radiation propagation and device description: the THz no man’s land Both guided-wave and quasi-optical techniques can be used to propagate THz radiation. Tucker & Feldman (1985) were the ﬁrst to analyse a device operating in the THz region in both quantum and classical terms. paradoxically. Chitta et al . complex designs (such as mixers and detector arrays) can be realized and moving components. In the travelling wave tube (e. The high surface quality that can be produced by these methods results in low-loss components. 1992): the determining factor is now the ratio of the photon quantum energy and the energy acquired by the tunnelling electron. the entire question of noise at THz frequencies requires further consideration. 2013 Recent progress in decreasing the terahertz gap 205 Before leaving this brief survey of THz sources. can be incorporated. Carr et al .
where very large bandwidth is needed. Eisele & Kamousa 2003) clearly have the potential to act as sources for communications systems of this type. The conclusions are that both systems have equivalent range (ca. (1987) ﬁrst investigated the THz frequency response of DNA. 1 THz. (2003) and Globus et al . (2002)). The origin of contrast in THz images (Chamberlain & Smith 2002) remains a matter of debate. As Mann has pointed out. together with investigations of biological material using a THz microscope (van der Valk & Planken 2000) to examine blood ﬂow.Downloaded from rsta. and also because they illustrate some key problems that need to be overcome. At present. safety issues (Berry 2003) need further examination. Woodward et al . In particular. and several authors since then have studied the low-frequency internal vibrations of DNA. Particular concern at present rests with the corPhil.teraview. the performance of systems designed for operation in the absorption window at 400 GHz can be analysed making reasonable assumptions for transmitter power and receiver sensitivity. Although still in its infancy. Transferred electron oscillators (Eisele 1998. there are strong reasons to suspect that THz technology may have an important role to play in understanding the structure and function of biological materials. 2 km) and that the 400 GHz system is more suitable for last-mile applications. and over a very wide frequency range. Soc. Fitzgerald et al . Although THz radiation is non-ionizing. it can handle a much larger bandwidth. (1999). 2003) are required. (2001). further systematic studies of human tissue (Fitzgerald et al . (2003)). a 400 GHz system requires a much lower transmit power for a given aperture dimension. M.com).royalsocietypublishing. The potential of THz medical imaging in dermatology. Furthermore. practical medical imaging systems are limited by the small sample area that can be handled and by the image acquisition time. It is unlikely that THz communications systems will be realized for terrestrial use at frequencies much above 500 GHz in the foreseeable future.org on January 22. In comparison with a 60 GHz system. but the useful extension of THz imaging to internal body surfaces will require the development of endoscopic delivery systems (Mendis & Grischkowsky 2001). Powell et al . in oral and dental medicine and in pathology has been demonstrated by a number of workers using both pulsed and CW techniques (see Arnone et al . the ﬁrst commercial imaging system for medical use has now been produced (see http://www. although there is still a lack of suitable modulators and ampliﬁers for systems use. Loﬄer et al . (2003). indeed. Lond. The advantages of communications systems that operate above the conventional 60 GHz frequency (Iezekiel & Bourhill 2000. R. To elucidate these questions. and for reviews see Chamberlain & Smith (2002). RNA and nucleic acid bases (for reviews see Shen et al . Both transmission and reﬂection measurements have been reported: the limited penetration depth of THz radiation in surface tissue (a few millimetres) exceeds that of near-infrared techniques. attenuation in a rainy atmosphere is virtually constant above 100 GHz and. 2013 206 J. 2001). A (2004) . Wake 2002) have been analysed by Mann (2001). as does the most appropriate choice of image parameter (Loﬄer et al . Images may be formed from a number of parameters derived from the real and imaginary parts of the dielectric function. nevertheless. These are selected as examples of the current state of the art. as indicated by the Friis transmission formula. Chamberlain 5. Conclusion: present and future THz systems We shall now consider two THz systems: a communications system and an imaging system for medicine. Some further emerging applications will then be considered brieﬂy. fog and smoke have little eﬀect up to ca. tumour burden and related issues. Trans.
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A (2004) . East Harptree. This is the extraordinary thing. Chamberlain. and the Rayleigh–Jeans law covered long wavelengths. for example? The work carried out in Frankfurt using dark-ﬁeld techniques is beginning to indicate that diﬀuse propagation (scattering. Rubens took them to Max Planck and Planck said that that very day he wrote down his formula for radiation and then. There appears in the literature to be low-level radiation. It has been widely detected in the infrared. Unknown speaker. M. broadly speaking. and more accessible. which may be associated with some sort of scattering eﬀect. R. 2013 212 J. quantum theory would not have been invented at the time it was.) has got to be taken very seriously. one sees basically very ﬂat spectra except in certain tissues. Lond. I assume that you are thinking of the phenomena of the Fr¨hlich hypothesis. Colchester. One of the things I have found during my reading of this period is that all of the workers were actively concerned about how to make more eﬀective electric light bulbs. which you have identiﬁed. beautiful. Phil. and the potential is just amazing. After Rubens’s death in 1923. by using micromachining technologies. do you get much the same picture? J. and one would have to design THz experiments to look at it.royalsocietypublishing. but no one had ﬁgured out the formula exactly. they were driven in their work not just by the physics. for example caries in teeth. J. Max Planck wrote that without the intervention of Rubens. is fascinating—what actually is a THz image all about? Is it about scattering. M. Chamberlain Discussion M. one could actually make those devices much more cheaply. Chamberlain. Chamberlain. It may be scattering which is giving us all the nice pictures! A. So it was a fascinating mixture. Concerning your comment about spectra. UK ). M. seen sometimes as delayed luminescence. Can I ﬁrst comment on the millimetre-wave aspects. The whole question. Trans. and perhaps not in Germany at all.org on January 22. What are the prospects for it being detected in the THz range? J. multipliers and BWOs. etc. does the frequency you use make much diﬀerence. after the hardest work of his life. but by the desire to see a really eﬃcient application. I agree with you that what has been done using BWO devices. On the historical side. and one of the big controversies at that time was the form of the black-body radiation curve in this region. When you use THz radiation for imaging of biological samples like teeth. Soc. University of Essex. detected from all living biological material. In my opinion. On the day that he got very accurate results on wavelengths beyond 50 µm. spectra of molecules in the gas phase. it is very low energy. Crompton (Cybernetic Machine Group of British Computer Society. where you see a broad feature. It sounds a very interesting problem.Downloaded from rsta. Wien’s law covered short wavelengths. So. which deals with the possibility that all living systems will o actually generate low-level radiation. M. There has been a small group of molecular spectroscopists working for a number of years in the millimetre-wave region using electronic devices such as klystrons. F. UK ). yes. Kimmitt (Physics Centre. producing very high-resolution. when Rubens was working in Berlin (around 1897) he measured to increasingly longer wavelengths (beyond 50 µm). he came to the conclusion that energy must be quantized.
org on January 22. say. and I just want to add one which was not mentioned—the p-Ge laser. Lond. Soc. Indeed. you do ﬁnd that noise dominates the signal if the source is below ca.royalsocietypublishing. Houston. M. where we are interested in looking at aqueous samples. Chamberlain. You talked about endoscopy and biological applications. You gave a nice overview of THz sources. Phil.Downloaded from rsta. Trans. So. and surely it gets a lot. G. D. yes. you may be OK. which gives watts of laser power from 1 to 4 THz. you may have problems. Rice University. Chamberlain. but if you look at the sensitivity of the devices you can build. TX. University of St Andrews. M. I agree with you that if you look at. J. lot worse as you move into the THz regime? J. you should not just talk about power. M. signal-to-noise ratio would be a more useful benchmark. you must also consider signal-to-noise ratio. or does that depend on the system and the details of the imaging conﬁguration? J. UK ). Havenith (University of Bochum. 1 mW. But I entirely agree with you that for THz pulsed imaging. 2013 Recent progress in decreasing the terahertz gap 213 M. but water absorption is a horrendous problem. A (2004) . You are absolutely right. and I wanted to make the comment that many of the beautiful THz images which you showed were formed with a lot less power than that and so a more useful benchmark would be signal-to-noise ratio rather than power. It depends what you mean by ‘worse’. but it does not matter since you have extraordinary sensitivity. Smith (Department of Physics and Astronomy. I omitted the p-Ge laser. I work in millimetre-wave magnetic resonance. a mucous membrane which is covered in water. Chamberlain. Mittleman (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. R. Germany). M. and some of my group do millimetre-wave medical imaging. USA). You set a benchmark of 1 mW at 1 THz as a useful threshold. I agree with you that this is extremely useful as a research tool. If you look at the energy budget for a communication system. especially if you are using coherent detection. The only answer is through experiment. you are dealing with µW of power.
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