Advanced Crystals for Terahertz Wave Generation

J.A. Johnson, D.J. Michaelis
Terahertz Innovations, LLC / Brigham Young University, Utah, United States

Keywords: non-destructive testing, chemical recognition, imaging, terahertz radiation, spectroscopy

Terahertz Innovations, LLC and BYU are developing efficient THz generation crystals that will have a significant impact on THz scanner technology. Commercial THz scanners rely on photoconductive antennas to produce THz for scanning applications ranging from security to food processing. The best current THz crystals can produce 5x more THz than photoconductive antennas, but THz crystals have not gained widespread use because of high costs and limited lifetimes. Our preliminary calculations show that we can increase the output a further 10x with our novel advanced crystals. This 50x increase in THz output, with a broader spectral coverage, will enable THz scanners to perform both imaging and spectroscopic material identification simultaneously. THz radiation penetrates many packaging materials and can image and identify explosives or illicit drugs. This 50x improvement will also enable a significant increase in throughput in non-destructive testing of advanced materials and food, presenting huge savings. In addition to identifying several molecules that can provide up to 50x more powerful THz than current technology, we are optimizing containment structures that will make the crystals more robust and better suited to rugged environments. We are also making plug-and-play crystal modules that can immediately increase the performance of any THz scanner.