Terahertz research is the current limits of modern electronic and photonic technology. Electronics has continued to push its operating frequency into the hundreds of gigahertz, but as the frequencies get higher, parasitic RC time constants destroy the performance of devices. On the higher frequency side of the electromagnetic spectrum, visible and infrared photonics have been widely researched and exploited to make possible the technologies that modern communication is built on. Between these two ranges there is a gap in technology, the “THz gap.”
Light in this frequency range can be used for a variety of purposes. It has the ability to see through many materials such as clothing and many plastics, and thus has a huge potential for use in security. Also, every material has a unique THz absorption spectrum, making it useful for materials identification. Other potential applications that are already being pursued are in astronomy, medical imaging, and defect detection in materials that are opaque in other frequency ranges.
One of the most exciting and challenging aspects of terahertz technology is that it is still at a relatively young stage, meaning that the real potential of this frequency range has yet to be realized. Practical tabletop sources are only just becoming available and the number of applications being investigated by researchers around the world is growing quickly.
For more information about specific projects that are being worked on in the Sherwin group, please check out the research portion of the site.