New spectroscopic methods and insights in chemistry will be powered by adding terahertz frequencies to the visible and infrared that are useful for chemical analysis and identification.
T-rays provide the transmissivity and propagation of radio with the directivity of light. THz waves can be transmitted through various opaque materials, such as paper, plastics, ceramics, wood, and textiles, enabling communication through these THz-transparent materials as well as non-destructive analysis of internal substances hidden within THz-transparent boxes, or behind clothes or curtains. Because THz wavelengths are in the micron range, THz waves can also produce images with resolution similar to that of images viewed with the human eye under visible light, even when transmitted at a distance, and even when transmitted and received through THz-transparent materials.
In contrast to X-rays (and shorter wavelength) radiation, T-rays have low photon energies, so will not cause harmful photo-ionization in biological tissues. (a photon at 1 THz carries 4 meV, which is 1 million times lower than the energy of an X-ray photon; the energy of a photon is given by hc/λ, where h is Planck's constant, c is the speed of light, and λ is the photon wavelength in a vacuum.)
All materials consist of atoms and molecules joined by chemical bonds. When exposed to electromagnetic radiation of certain (THz and higher) frequencies, these chemical bonds vibrate at a unique characteristic frequency, enabling the chemical composition of the substance, impurities, and other properties to be identified. By comparison with a known spectrum signature, differences between products and compounds can be analyzed, and since THz waves are non-ionizing, this can be done non-destructively.
Frequency multipliers (dark circles) dominate other electronic devices (triangles) above 150 GHz up to 1 THz. Cryogenic sources are shown as hollow circles. In the far infrared region, lasers dominate but do not emit below 1.2 THz. They also tend to be bulky (gas laser) or unstable (QCL) and expensive.
Free electron lasers are currently the best available source, but these facilities cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build, and a substantial fraction of that each year to maintain.
The below table provides a comparative summary of the various commercially available terahertz sources with the Magtera magnon laser. A color code is used to compare the relative attributes of poor (red), average (yellow) and excellent (green).
The Magnon Laser combines all the desired capabilities of femtosecond lasers and diode lasers, in a low-cost and compact form factor. Furthermore, the Magnon Laser provides a fundamentally different approach to generate terahertz radiation, the performance of which far outpaces any small future incremental gains expected from existing laser technologies.
The THz gap exists because it’s hard to push optical tricks to such long wavelengths and hard to push microwave-electronic tricks to such short wavelengths.
A slow increase in the usefulness and power of THz sources has delayed the development of useful and powerful THz applications. Until Magtera’s breakthrough, terahertz frequencies have been too high for even the most sophisticated electronics production techniques and yet too low for optical or infrared lasers.
The Magtera team is comprised of scientific and business leaders in the fields of photonics, semiconductors, and spectroscopy and we have extensive experience in technology R&D and the management of commercial and government-funded R&D projects.
Adam H. Tachner, JD, BS, MBA (Exec. Chairman)
Co-founder, seasoned technology executive and company builder (Atheros, InvenSense, and Google Fiber)
20+ years leading legal and corporate development teams in high growth technology firms