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Dual-comb laser driven terahertz spectrometer for industrial sensing

Project description

Novel technology lights the way to cost-effective terahertz investigation of materials

Among the many useful light–matter interactions is the absorption of different wavelengths of light by different ions or molecules. Optical absorption spectroscopy takes advantage of this phenomenon to provide fundamental information about materials without contacting, altering or harming the material of interest. The applications are virtually limitless. Optical absorption spectroscopy in the terahertz region of the electromagnetic spectrum takes all existing advantages to a new level and adds more. However, the driving laser is currently quite costly and complex. The EU-funded DC-THz project is planning to remedy that with its pioneering laser technology.


Optical absorption spectroscopy is a key enabling technology for contact-free and non-destructive identification of materials. Since these measurements allow for identifying defects or contaminants in products, they are used in many industries. Examples include testing of polymers, coatings and paints, pharmaceuticals, foods, and semiconductor devices for electronics. Optical spectroscopy also has emerging applications in environmental monitoring, security, and medical diagnostics. Light in the terahertz region of the electromagnetic spectrum (frequencies from 0.1 – 10 THz) is particularly attractive for all these applications because of its remarkable properties: it can be transmitted through many materials, allowing for inspection of products inside their packaging; its interaction with matter leaves unique spectral fingerprints, enabling identification of the molecules present; and it offers good resolution, enabling imaging applications. However, a significant challenge for existing industrial terahertz spectroscopy systems is the high cost and complexity of the driving laser. In this ERC-PoC project, we will resolve these problems by leveraging our recently-demonstrated breakthrough dual-comb laser technology. These patented dual-comb lasers produce asynchronous high-power femtosecond pulses from a single laser cavity. This solution combines higher performance and lower complexity compared to the alternative technologies. The goal of the ERC-PoC is to deploy these advantages in the context of terahertz spectroscopy to enable faster measurements and lower costs, and take important steps to commercialization. We will develop a prototype industrial terahertz spectrometer, measure test samples with research and industrial collaborators, and find initial product-market fit for commercializing the spectrometer.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 150 000,00
Raemistrasse 101
8092 Zuerich

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Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera Zürich Zürich
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data

Beneficiaries (1)