Terahertz Technology: Efficient Technology of the Future

Not everything can be seen with the naked eye, to see it, requires the use of various advanced detection technology tools. Detecting devices are important tools in several industries, including medical & healthcare, security, defense, space, communication and imaging, agriculture, and the list goes on.

The detection devices are incorporated with different advanced proximity sensors to identify the presence of objects or substances using electromagnetic radiation detection technologies. Terahertz radiation technology is growing significantly in various sectors owing to its special properties.

What is Terahertz?

Terahertz (THz) waves are electromagnetic waves falling between infrared and microwaves. The word tera stands for trillion (1012), and the hertz (Hz) is used for a frequency meter or cycles per second. Collectively, terahertz means, a trillion hertz frequency per second (i.e. 1 trillion oscillations per second).

Due to its unique properties, terahertz technology has become essential for detecting concealed objects quickly. It can be used for the detection of explosives, drugs, or substances passing through coatings.

Terahertz waves can easily penetrate through materials such as clothes, ceramics, paper, wood, plastic, cardboard, and so on. Even the thickness of the material flowing through ceramics or plastics can be calculated in a non-destructive manner using THz waves.

What Benefits Does Terahertz Technology Offer to Modern Industries?

The low energy properties make THz waves unharmful to humans and animals. Terahertz technology has wider benefits in different sectors owing to its unique characteristics. The benefits of terahertz scanners are as follows:

Improved Security Threat Scanning: Security threats are evolving with time, becoming more sophisticated and harder to detect with regular detection devices. The sourcing and manufacturing methods of compact and detection-evading explosives are easily sourced through the Internet.

Possibilities of such materials going undetected at checkpoints cannot be ignored. This is why the detection of hazardous powders, explosives, liquids, and other small packeted chemical, biological, and radiological elements (CBRE) security threats has become an important requirement in recent years.

The terahertz scanner can be efficient in detecting such risky materials and packages with unprecedented scanning speed. The THz scanner allows for seeing through the envelope or package and identifying what it contains without opening it.

Product Quality Inspection: Quality inspection is an important aspect of every other industry nowadays. The use of terahertz wave technology is emerging as it allows a nondestructive way of quality inspection. Quality inspection using terahertz systems is growing in industries like aviation and automotive

Attractive features of terahertz systems include their non-hazardous nature and the ability to produce high-contrast images while penetrating through dielectrics. The technology is currently used along with already implemented quality inspection tools and its largest application is for measuring the thickness of the desired part of the product.

Non-invasive Detection in Healthcare: Terahertz spectroscopy is gaining significance in biomedical research owing to non-invasive and label-free detection of living cells as well as medical imaging. Terahertz systems can be efficient in studying soft tissues. 

Cancer imaging is one of the significant applications of THz waves in healthcare, as in most cancer types growth initiates at the body’s soft tissue surfaces. Such soft tissues are ideal for cancer imaging using terahertz waves. 

THz also has applications in the study of proteins (biomolecules), detecting genetic mutations, determining corneal hydration (eye pathology), detecting depth of burn, mapping tooth decay, and monitoring wound healing among others. The applications of THz are likely to grow significantly in healthcare with growing research and development initiatives.

Food Quality Control: X-ray detection technology can have unfavorable effects on biological agents present in food products. Instead of using X-ray machines, manufacturers in the food industry can take benefits from terahertz food scanning technology for food quality control.

As THz waves can pass through several materials used for food packaging, seeing through these package coatings can be easily achieved with THz scanners. Some ready-to-cook food products come with sachet with seasoning inside them. With the THz scanner, every packet can be checked to ensure that it contains a sachet. If the item is missing then the scanner can quickly alert the quality controller.

Semiconductor: The THz technology can also be used for expanding semiconductors manufacturing and applications. The THz fields can be used for monitoring and controlling ultra-speed processes in semiconductors. It can also be used for enabling ultrafast switching in semiconductor components.

Terahertz Technology Industry Insights

The major providers of terahertz technology solutions across the world are TeraVil Ltd.; Menlo Systems; QMC Instruments Ltd.; Terasense Group Inc.; Gentec Electro-Optics; HÜBNER GmbH & Co. KG; TeraView Limited.; Luna Innovations; TOPTICA Photonics AG; and ADVANTEST CORPORATION.

Terahertz technology is becoming increasingly efficient and cost-effective in recent years. Its applications are rising in every other industry owing to its safety and lack of hazards to humans. 

Moreover, the THz scanners can be handled by non-expert users as well, which makes them adaptable across industries for inspection and security reasons. With rising advances in research and development, the use of THz technology is likely to expand significantly in different industries.

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