, Volume 397, Issue 3, pp 1009-1017
Date: 14 Apr 2010

Chemical sensing and imaging with pulsed terahertz radiation

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Over the past decade, terahertz spectroscopy has evolved into a versatile tool for chemically selective sensing and imaging applications. In particular, the potential to coherently generate and detect short, and hence, broadband terahertz pulses led to the development of efficient and compact spectrometers for this interesting part of the electromagnetic spectrum, where common packaging materials are transparent and many chemical compounds show characteristic absorptions. Although early proof-of-principle demonstrations have shown the great potential of terahertz spectroscopy for sensing and imaging, the technology still often lacks the required sensitivity and suffers from its intrinsically poor spatial resolution. In this review we discuss the current potential of terahertz pulse spectroscopy and highlight recent technological advances geared towards both enhancing spectral sensitivity and increasing spatial resolution.

Online abstract figure

Artist's view of a terahertz pulse emitted from a photoconductive antenna probing the vibrational modes of a sugar molecule.