Royal Society Publishing

Terahertz sources and detectors and their application to biological sensing

Thomas W. Crowe, Tatiana Globus, Dwight L. Woolard, Jeffrey L. Hesler


Terahertz spectroscopy has long been used as an important measurement tool in fields such as radio astronomy, physical chemistry, atmospheric studies and plasma research. More recently terahertz technology has been used to develop an exciting new technique to investigate the properties of a wide range of biological materials. Although much research remains before a full understanding of the interaction between biomaterials and terahertz radiation is developed, these initial studies have created a compelling case for further scientific study. Also, the potential development of practical tools to detect and identify biological materials such as biological–warfare agents and food contaminants, or of medical diagnostic tools, is driving the need for improved terahertz technology. In particular, improved terahertz sources and detectors that can be used in practical spectroscopy systems are needed. This paper overviews some of the recent measurements of the terahertz spectra of biomaterials and the ongoing efforts to create an all–solid–state technology suitable not only for improved scientific experiments but also for military and commercial applications.

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