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High-Q filter banks enabling unprecedented selective and high-sensitivity radiometers for environmental sensing

Project description

Catching the waves with high temporal resolution and riding out the storms better

Satellites have significantly advanced the field of earth observation, carrying instrumentation that helps us characterise and understand the earth's physical, chemical and biological systems. With the increasing availability of small and inexpensive satellites, we have the opportunity to significantly enhance data collection and knowledge. Supporting that effort, the EU-funded TERAFILT project is developing highly sensitive and compact radiometers for earth-observation environmental sensing applications. Radiometers measure the intensity of electromagnetic radiation of certain wavelengths and frequencies such as microwave, terahertz or infrared. The novel radiometers will be compatible with small weather satellites and enable updates in the order of minutes rather than hours, significantly improving our ability to foresee and manage increasingly frequent severe weather events.


This project proposes a new architecture of sub-terahertz (THz) radiometers, which, for the first time, allows to combine high frequency selectivity, high sensitivity and high compactness, intended to be used in Earth-observation environmental sensing applications.
There exists two radiometer detector types: 1) direct-detectors have best-possible sensitivity, but poor frequency selectivity, even when equipped with superconductive filters which require bulky and energy-demanding cryogenic cooling systems; 2) heterodyne-receivers, which are compact and have excellent frequency selectivity, but have inherently inferior signal-to-noise ratio.
The PI, in his ERC CoG, has developed a new terahertz technology enabled by silicon micromachining, and has demonstrated world-record breaking narrow-band filters at sub-THz frequencies (Q=800 at 450 GHz, 1600 at 150 GHz), which, even at room temperature, are superior in performance to state-of-the-art THz filters requiring cryogenic cooling. Furthermore, he has developed a micromachined waveguide switch technology with unprecedented on/off ratio (insertion loss of 0.6 dB, isolation of 50 dB at 220 GHz). These results will be combined for the first time to a new direct-detector based radiometer architecture, enabled by a proposed micromachined switched-filter bank. Such a compact and high-performance radiometer can even be utilized in CubeSat high-density weather-satellite constellations, which are predicted to replace current weather satellites and enable a weather update every 15 minutes as opposed to several hours, which is required for dynamic monitoring for instance the development of severe storms. A proof-of-concept demonstrator for measuring the 183 GHz water line, capable of resolving sub-spectral lines at highest-possible sensitivity, will be implemented and tested in academic and space-industry environment, and appropriate innovation management and exploitation measures are taken in the project.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 150 000,00
100 44 Stockholm

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Östra Sverige Stockholm Stockholms län
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data

Beneficiaries (1)