T-Rays And Tricorders

Researchers have discovered a way to create electromagnetic Terahertz (THz) waves or T-rays, which are used in the large full-body scanners seen in airports, in a very small package. Small enough to have Star Trek fans thinking of tricorders.


(Medical tricorder)

The scientists say that the T-ray scanner and detector could provide part of the functionality of a Star Trek-like medical 'tricorder' - a portable sensing, computing and data communications device - since the waves are capable of detecting biological phenomena such as increased blood flow around tumorous growths. Future scanners could also perform fast wireless data communication to transfer a high volume of information on the measurements it makes.

T-rays are waves in the far infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum that have a wavelength hundreds of times longer than those that make up visible light. Such waves are already in use in airport security scanners, prototype medical scanning devices and in spectroscopy systems for materials analysis. T-rays can sense molecules such as those present in cancerous tumours and living DNA, since every molecule has its unique signature in the THz range. They can also be used to detect explosives or drugs, for gas pollution monitoring or non-destructive testing of semiconductor integrated circuit chips...

The structure of the tip-to-tip nano-sized gap electrode greatly enhances the THz field and acts like a nano-antenna to amplify the wave generated.


(Nano-antenna
The electric field distribution generated
by the antenna with close-up of nano-antennas)

From Imperial College News via Extreme Tech. Thanks to Winchell Chung (aka @nyrath) and also Adi for the tip on this story.

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