Project Summary

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Terahertz electromagnetic radiation (from 100 GHz to 10 THz) that lies in the boundary region between light and radio waves has attracted a great deal of attention in recent years due to its ability to achieve innovative sensing systems. Terahertz waves can handle significant short pulse signals with the corresponding potential spatial resolution, penetrate light opaque materials and identify and visualize microscopic structures through spectral analysis. Therefore, terahertz waves are expected to be advantageously used for near, short and medium range scanning systems for hazardous or contaminant materials and testing devices for medical examinations. There is a sensation that terahertz technology represents the dawn of a new era. The perception is that the technologic development of the field could open a range of new opportunities in some respect comparable to the ones opened by the microwave technologic development of the 60-70’s and for the optoelectronics of the 70-80’s.

This research programme proposes to join the efforts of 16 research teams specialized into the scientific and technologic areas of electrodynamics, numerical simulation, high frequency technology and design, and information fusion to investigate and experiment with a first set of prototypes of a new generation of terahertz sensing systems. The complementary expertise of the teams has been chosen to afford some of the more significant scientific and technologic challenges existing at international level in sensing and imaging applications. The program ambition is to create a unique excelling expertise on Terahertz sensing and to attract the more significant senior and junior experts at international level to participate into a temporal or permanent basis on the Terasense initiative through seminars, stays and conferences to create the concentration of knowledge and international impact necessary to position Spain as one of the European leading countries on terahertz sensing and imaging in the middle term. The program ambitions:

  • to advance the knowledge on the interaction between the matter and electromagnetic waves in the Terahertz band, including spontaneous and stimulated emission, and their ability and capability to extract and deliver information on their constituency and parameters.

  • to define new system architectures and devices able to solve the existing technological gaps in the different spectral bands of the Terahertz region. Particular efforts will be devoted to extrapolate the recent technological advances produced in wireless technologies for communication applications to the field of the electromagnetic sensing.

  • to define and build a terahertz networked laboratory infrastructure at national level able to support the development of the different devices and subsystems. Specifically it is proposed a set of three technological laboratories at national level.

  • to promote the establishment of a joint international advanced graduated program on the field of electromagnetic sensing able to attract bright worldwide students and scholars to accelerate the advancement of the field, and specifically fostering a multidisciplinary approach to educate a new generation of researchers performing in the frontiers of electromagnetism, nanoscience and bioscience.

  • to structure and coordinate a joint public-private research effort at national level to improve the joint presence and projection at international levels, particularly at European level, to optimize the benefits of the advancement on the electromagnetic sensing field.

More specifically, to focus the efforts and to ensure a significant international impact, the program proposes to organize the research plan addressing three of the more significant challenges at international level for the next five to ten-year period

  • To investigate and develop a new 0.1THz real-time two-dimensional short-range camera for security applications. 6 research groups lead by UPC.

  • To investigate and develop a new 0.3THz remote sensor radar system able to scan and test natural and urban environment and atmospheric scenarios. 5 research groups lead by UPM.

  • To investigate and develop a new 0.5-3THz tomographic near-field scanner for biostructures sensing and imaging. 5 research groups lead by UPV.

Besides affording the significant actual terasense challenges, the three proposed fields cover the scientific territory in a very consistent way. From one hand each one of them implies an increase of frequency of operation by a factor of 3 that leads in a natural way from the 0.1 THz region to well within the THz region. This approach is commensurate to the frequency tripler technology employed to produce sources at THz. On the other hand they cover the potential range of distances: short-range (intermediate distances), remote sensing (large distances) and near-field range (microscopy and tomographic systems).

In the last 20 years, the different groups of the proposed team have built up very high scientific and technological competence on the field of high frequency electromagnetic systems for a broad class of applications ranging from communications and radar to imaging and sensing in collaboration with industrial partners at national and international levels. The aggregated research impact of these groups would result on one of the strongest consortia at the international level. The team is now ready to do a significant qualitative step ahead and afford an upper stage of challenges joining their efforts in a structured way. This program could acquire the critical mass necessary to join efforts with the industrial partners and materialize the opportunity to investigate, define and develop a higher stadium of system integration research and applications on the field of THz sensing and interaction with the environment.

The final goal of the program is to produce a significant advancement on the understanding and mastering of the terahertz electromagnetic sensing systems from the scientific, technological and system point of view and to obtain a high international visibility able to establish a solid base for the creation of an interuniversity research center and the industrial development of systems and services exploiting this knowledge