Light-powered 3-D printer creates terahertz lens

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Light-powered 3-D printer creates terahertz lens

Post by Cr6 on Sun May 01, 2016 10:24 pm

Light-powered 3-D printer creates terahertz lens

April 29, 2016 by Amanda Morris



The design of Sun's lens with gradient refractive index.
From visible light to radio waves, most people are familiar with the different sections of the electromagnetic spectrum. But one wavelength is often forgotten, little understood, and, until recently, rarely studied. It's called terahertz, and it has important applications in imaging and communications.


"Terahertz is somewhat of a gap between microwaves and infrared," said Northwestern University's Cheng Sun. "People are trying to fill in this gap because this spectrum carries a lot of information."

Sun and his team have used metamaterials and 3-D printing to develop a novel lens that works with terahertz frequencies. Not only does it have better imaging capabilities than common lenses, but it opens the door for more advances in the mysterious realm of the terahertz.

Supported by the National Science Foundation, the work was published online on April 22 in the journal Advanced Optical Materials.

"Typical lenses—even fancy ones—have many, many components to counter their intrinsic imperfections," said Sun, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering. "Sometimes modern imaging systems stack several lenses to deliver optimal imaging performance, but this is very expensive and complex."
The focal length of a lens is determined by its curvature and refractive index, which shapes the light as it enters. Without components to counter imperfections, resulting images can be fuzzy or blurred. Sun's lens, on the other hand, employs a gradient index, which is a refractive index that changes over space to create flawless images without requiring additional corrective components.

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Here, Sun's team prints a stent with the same technology used to print the terahertz lens.
There are two major factors that made this new lens possible. First, it is made from a novel metamaterial that exhibits properties not readily available in nature. "Such properties originate from its tiny structures that are much smaller than the terahertz wavelength," said Fan Zhou, the paper's first author and member of Sun's laboratory. "By assembling these tiny structures, we can create specific refractive index distribution."

Second, the lens was manufactured with a 3-D printing technique called projection micro-stereo-lithography. The technique enables a scalable, rapid, and inexpensive way to produce the tiny features that are needed for the lens to operate at the terahertz frequency band. The printing technology allowed the researchers to fabricate the metamaterial to precisely fit their designs.

"For printing, we use a photo-polymer in liquid form," Sun said. "When we shine a light on the material, it converts it into a solid. The material forms to the shape of the light, allowing us to create a 3-D structure. You cannot accomplish a gradient index with traditional manufacturing processes."

The lens could make terahertz imaging, which is particularly useful for security, cheaper, higher resolution, and more available. While X-rays can detect metal, they cannot detect plastic or chemicals. Terahertz scanners, however, can detect both of items to discover concealed weapons, biological weapons such as anthrax, and plastic explosives. And unlike X-rays, terahertz radiation is completely harmless to humans.

http://phys.org/news/2016-04-light-powered-d-printer-terahertz-lens.html

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Researchers develop new lens for terahertz radiation

Post by Cr6 on Sun May 01, 2016 10:26 pm

Researchers develop new lens for terahertz radiation


March 14, 2016 by Kevin Stacey


Terahertz radiation is a relatively unexplored slice of the electromagnetic spectrum, but it holds the promise of countless new imaging applications as well as wireless communication networks with extremely high bandwidth. The problem is that there are few off-the-shelf components available for manipulating terahertz waves.


Now, researchers from Brown University's School of Engineering have developed a new type of lens for focusing terahertz radiation (which spans from about 100 to 10,000 GHz). The lens, made from an array of stacked metal plates with spaces between them, performs as well or better than existing terahertz lenses, and the architecture used to build the device could set the stage for a range of other terahertz components that don't currently exist.

The work was led by Rajind Mendis, assistant professor of engineering (research) at Brown, who worked with Dan Mittleman, professor of engineering at Brown. The work is described in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.
"Any photonic system that uses terahertz - whether it's in imaging, wireless communications or something else - will require lenses," said Dan Mittleman, professor of engineering at Brown and the senior author on the new paper. "We wanted to look for new ways to focus terahertz radiation."

Most lenses use the refractive properties of a material to focus light energy. Eyeglasses, for example, use convex glass to bend visible light and focus it on a certain spot. But for this new terahertz lens, the properties of the materials used don't matter as much as the way in which the materials are arranged.


The image shows a a two-centimeter beam focused to four millimeters. Credit: Mittleman lab / Brown University
"It's the architecture here that's important," Mendis said.

The new device is made from 32 metal plates, each 100 microns thick, with a 1-millimeter space between each plate. The plates have semicircular notches of different sizes cut out of one edge, such that when stacked horizontally the notches form a three-dimensional divot on one side of the device. When a terahertz beam enters the input side of the device, slices of the beam travel through the spaces between the plates. The concave output side of the device bends the beam slices to varying degrees such that the slices are all focused on a certain point.

Using the configuration developed for this new study, the researchers were able to focus a two-centimeter-diameter terahertz beam down to a four-millimeter spot. The radiation transmission through the device - the amount of radiation that makes it through the spaces as opposed to reflected back toward the source or dissipated inside the device - was about 80 percent. That's significantly better than silicon lenses, which typically have a transmission loss of about 50 percent, and about the same as lenses made from Teflon.

The new device has some advantages over existing Teflon lenses, however. In particular, by changing the spacing between the plates, the new device can be calibrated for specific terahertz wavelengths, something that isn't possible with existing lenses.

"That can be particularly interesting if you want to image things at one frequency and not at others," Mittleman said. "One of the important things here is that this design offers you a versatility that a simple chunk of plastic with a curved surface doesn't offer."

The work also suggests that the technique of using spaced metal plates to manipulate terahertz radiation could be useful in making other types of components that currently don't exist. Since a metallic architecture mimics a plastic (a dielectric), this material technology is called "artificial dielectrics."

"As much as anything else, this paper proves that the technology is feasible," Mittleman said. "Now we can go and make devices that are totally new in the terahertz world."

The same technology could be used, Mendis said, to make a polarizing beam splitter for terahertz waves - a device that separates waves according to their polarization state. Such a device could be used to implement elementary logic gates for terahertz photonic systems, where the binary (one and zero) logic states are assigned to the two polarization states. That would be an essential component of a terahertz data network.

(more at link...)
http://phys.org/news/2016-03-lens-terahertz.html#nRlv

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