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Route to guided TeraHertz backscattering Inspection and Analysis

Final Report Summary - THEIA (Route to guided TeraHertz backscattering Inspection and Analysis)

The ancient Greeks believed that human beings were able to see thanks to beams of light. In Greek mythology, THEIA, Titan goddess of sight, was, in fact, the mother of the Sun, Moon, and Dawn. Taking this as inspiration, this research plan focuses on the development of accessible technologies to exploit the probing capabilities demonstrated by Terahertz (THz) waves, targeting applications in fields like medicine, biology and material science. Recently, there has been an increasing need in industry, security and environment monitoring for technologies that allow fast, remote and in-situ chemical analysis possibly at low cost. For compliance with regulations, industry must achieve production efficiency in verifying materials of defined composition and structural integrity, while security and environmental monitoring aim at detecting remotely and in-situ molecular compounds presenting potential threats. Over the last few years, Terahertz (THz) waves (which lie between infrared and microwaves in the electromagnetic spectrum, i.e. roughly in the range 0.1-10x10^12 Hz or 3 mm to 30μm wavelength), have become a highly promising tool for real-time spectroscopic analysis of a wide variety of materials. The project explores the capability of the time-domain spectroscopy (TDS) proposing key-enabling solutions in reflection (e.g. the use of waveguide technologies) in several application frameworks.

Description of the work performed and research output
In terms of research output, the Marie Curie Career Integration Grants (CIG) contributed to the implementation of a THz time-domain spectroscopy system based on a waveguide structure, which is the main deliverable of the second part of the project. The involved team investigated methodologies to handle the surface scattering. This process fed into a novel THz waveguide design and resulted in a new generation of prototypes suitable for the purpose.
The work performed here directly contributed to the research outputs of several connected research investigations. The research output directly and indirectly generated by the project is detailed in the project website and includes several conferences and publications in reference journals in photonics.

As far as the research career development and long-term integration are concerned, the MC fellow recently became Full Professor in Photonics in June 2017, only about 3.5 years after his hiring at the University of Sussex as Lecturer. This progression is certainly very steep. In this framework, the CIG was extremely successful in securing and boosting the fellow’s career.

The contribution of the CIG directly affected the capability of the fellow to attract further research funds. The most notable example is the ERC-Consolidator Grant awarded to the fellow for a total contribution of about 2MEuro and started in June 2017