T-ray technology is moving from sci-fi to mainstream

by | Oct 15, 2022 | Technology

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Terahertz (T-ray) technologies offer the promise to transform how we interact with the world around us, from delivering lightning-fast data transfer beyond 6G to providing X-ray-like imaging without any harmful radiation. Yet effectively and efficiently harnessing T-rays for mainstream commercial applications has continued to elude scientists and engineers, relegating T-ray technologies to the realm of science fiction.

However, recent breakthroughs in how terahertz waves are generated and detected have now brought the technology to a tipping point for mainstream adoption. T-ray scanners can now be small enough to fit on a desktop, and they have enabled widespread terahertz use in medical, corporate, manufacturing and security settings across the world, with more developments to come. Here’s how T-ray technology has evolved over the past few decades and what we can expect in the years ahead. 

The origins of T-Ray

The electromagnetic spectrum has fascinated mankind for centuries, and in recent times, that spectrum has brought us radios, X-rays, cellphones, microwaves, lasers and more. But until the last two decades, there was one final, largely unexploited region of the electromagnetic spectrum, and that’s in the THz frequency range. In fact, ever since the ’60s, when scientists first began to experiment with T-ray technologies, this region right in the middle of the electromagnetic spectrum has been known as the Terahertz gap. 

The reason for the gap is simple: THz signals are hard to generate and detect. You’ve experienced the ease with which electronics generate low-frequency signals whenever you turn on your car radio, use your microwave oven or access social media on your cell phone. At the opposite end of the spectrum, optical technologies are great at generating and d …

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