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Direct Temporal Synthesis of Terahertz Light Fields Enabling Novel Computational Imaging

Project description

Using computational algorithms to create powerful 3D terahertz light fields

The terahertz (THz) frequency range is the last great frontier of the electromagnetic spectrum, lying above what is possible with fast electronics and below what is accessible with tuneable lasers. The manipulation of this frequency range offers the possibility to see through opaque objects in applications from materials’ characterisation to the detection of concealed explosives or drugs without the harmful radiation of X-rays. The EU-funded DIRECTS project is developing a computational approach to produce 3D THz light fields for see-through imaging, and the associated THz integrated circuits to study them.


The terahertz (THz) frequency range is widely considered as the most challenging and under-developed frequency range due to the lack of technologies to effectively bridge the transition region between microwaves (below 100 GHz) and optics (above 10,000 GHz). Although THz radiation would be perfect for material identification and as a safe alternative to X-rays for producing high resolution images of the interior of opaque objects, first a fundamentally new approach is needed to establish novel devices and techniques.

Rarely considered for its complexity, the so-called “light field” consists of all light rays in 3-D space, flowing through every point and in every direction. Thus a light field camera not only records color and brightness like a 2-D imaging sensor does, but also the direction/angle of all the light rays arriving at the sensor. The beauty of this spatio-directional information is that one can localize hidden objects and calculate their covered three-dimensional shape. So what’s the catch? For any practical means, the natural ambient THz radiation is by far too weak, and THz light-fields need to be created artificially.

Here I propose an innovative pathway empowered by massively scaled THz source and detector arrays, which will bring forth the science of computational light-fields to THz 3-D see-through imaging. Starting with newfangled THz source-arrays, I create the missing temporal modulated light-fields directly at the source and investigate a diffraction inclusive THz light-field system theory, architecture and algorithms. This is combined with innovative THz integrated circuits to research real-time THz light-field components. Although the far-reaching objectives incorporate a high risk due to the complexity of the approach connecting physical, computational, and optical sciences with engineering approaches, this is offset by the promise of major breakthroughs to create substantial value for both science and the global economy.



Net EU contribution
€ 2 477 947,00
Gauss-strasse 20
42119 Wuppertal

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Nordrhein-Westfalen Düsseldorf Wuppertal, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)