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Terahertz imaging - See through walls, clothes technology

Washingon, April 13 (IANS) Terahertz imaging can be the futuristic new tool against terrorism, says a new study.

"Scientists favour terahertz radiation because it can transmit through most non-metallic and non-polar mediums," said study leader John Federici, physics professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).

"When a terahertz system is used correctly, people can see through concealing barriers such as packaging, corrugated cardboard, walls, clothing, shoes, book bags, pill coatings, etc. in order to probe for concealed or falsified materials."

Once the rays penetrate those materials, they can also characterise what might be hidden - be they explosives, chemical agents or more-based on a spectral fingerprint the rays will sense which can identify the material.

Terahertz radiation poses minimal or no health risk to either the person being scanned or the THz system operator.

Cururently, instruments using terahertz (THz) imaging are widely used in lab and have shown some limited use in commercial applications.

However, a THz imaging system for security screening of people has not yet reached the market. Researchers say that such a system is at least five years away.

One technical limitation in developing video-rate THz imaging is the cost of THz hardware components including detectors.

Consequently, THz imaging systems create images using a very small number of detectors in contrast to the million or more detectors that are used in digital cameras.

According to Federici, one can use advanced imaging techniques, such as synthetic aperture imaging methods, to compensate for the relatively few number of THz detectors in an imaging system.

In 2005, Federici and his research team received a US patent for a terahertz imaging system and method that enables video-rate THz imaging with a limited number of detectors, says an NJIT release.

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