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Inexpensive 3D-printed lens gives terahertz imaging a boost

by • April 30, 2016 • No Comments

Terahertz radiation is a expanding field of innovation that empowers faster materials analysis than X-ray examination, and provides non-destructive, internal analysis of a raft of various types of materials. Now researchers have made a way of making lenses operating at this frequency that are easy and inexpensive, but are claimed to turn it into near-flawless images that may vastly improve biomedical imaging as well as biological and explosive security scanning.

Terahertz frequencies are located between the microwave and infrared frequencies in the in the electromagnetic spectrum, at a wavelength range between 1 mm to 0.1 mm, and have a few particularly astonishing properties. Many ordinary materials and living tissue, for example, are semi-transparent to this radiation and turn it into their own one-of-a-kind “fingerprints,” that allows for them to be individually synonymous as well as imaged and analyzed.

“Terahertz is a fewwhat of a gap between microwaves and infrared,” says Northwestern University’s Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Cheng Sun. “People are attempting to fill in this gap for the reason this spectrum carries a lot of information.”

A number of new devices have been made not long ago for terahertz imaging, such as one detector via graphene, and another that applies the technique to RFID tags. The most commercially beautiful devices, yet, are those that use this sub-millimeter radiation to supplement security and protection services, particularly in regard to explosive or biomedical hazard detection.

To extra
turn it into new technologies for these applications, the team at Northwestern made a lens via metamaterials and a 3D printing technique known as projection micro-stereo-lithography. This a microscopic process where a dynamic photo-mask is applied over a UV-sensitive polymer and a high-powered flash of UV laser light is applied to solidify the pattern traced on the polymer and join it to the layer at a lower place.

Able to quickly turn it into the minuscule showcases needed for the lens to function at terahertz frequencies, this 3D printing innovation gave the researchers the absolute precision needed to mold the metamaterial to their creations.

“Typical lenses – actually fancy ones – have most, most components to circumvent their intrinsic imperfections,” says associate professor Sun. “Sometimes modern imaging processs stack several lenses to donate optimal imaging performance, but this is quite expensive and difficult. (In our lens) we use a photo-polymer in liquid form. When we shine a light on the material, it converts it into a solid. The material forms to the shape of the light, enabling us to turn it into a 3-D structure.”

The focal lengths of ordinary lenses are a product of the curvature ground or molded into them. This, in turn, determines the refractive index of the lens (in easy terms, the amount the light bends as it enters and leaves the lens). Often, yet, extra
components are required in a lens process to circumvent the imperfections in most lenses to avoid a fuzzy or blurry image reproduction.

In the Northwestern University’s terahertz lens, yet, a gradient index is employed to turn it into ultra-sharp images without extra
corrective components. This is where a continuous alter of the refractive index is made inside the lens material itself; the human eye is an example of a effortless lens with a gradient index capability, as it can focus on objects at varying distances.

“Such properties commence of its small structures that are much additional compact than the terahertz wavelength,” says Fan Zhou, a member of Sun’s team. “By building these small structures, we can turn it into specific refractive index distribution. You cannot attain a gradient index with traditional making processes.”

According to the researchers, the new lens may manufacture terahertz imaging cheaper, with higher resolution, and additional widely on the market than it is already. Particularly useful for security for the reason, unlike X-rays, terahertz scanners can detect plastic, biological materials, and chemicals to assist uncover biological weapons such as anthrax, or plastic explosives such as Semtex. Terahertz radiation is in addition completely harmless to humans and can be utilized over and again without irradiation danger, unlike X-ray imaging.

The outcome of the research were not long ago published in the journal Advanced Optical Materials.

The video at a lower place shows the Northwestern 3D printing device in action.

Source: Northwestern University

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