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QuanTICo - Quantum Terahertz Imager using Coherent control

The Quantico project was centred around a terahertz imaging system developed based on terahertz to optical conversion in an atomic vapour, which means that it can be captured terahertz images much faster than any other scheme using conventional optical camera technology. Dr. Lucy Downes - Durham University; Dr. Philip Marsdem - Unitive Design and Analyisis; Prof. Kevin Weatherill -Durham University

Many industries rely heavily on x-ray. However, there are limitations to x-ray. X-ray looks at the structure of materials; Terahertz can be much more sensitive to the chemical nature of materials, and those chemical bonds tell you about how the material is constructed. The real advantage of this technology is that it sits in this gap between where optical imaging works and where electrical detection works. Now we have the ability to convert this terahertz radiation or millimetre wave radiation into green light.

The main excitement of this technique is really its raw speed being able to demonstrate frame rates up to tens of kilohertz which are thousands of times faster than other competing technologies.

Historically the images that have occupied this space have been slow, and they've been very noisy.

Our high-speed imaging system means that terahertz imaging could be used where images need to be taken very rapidly, for instance, at thousands of frames a second.

Things like shockwaves and explosions that occur on very short time scales we are able to imagine we can also take our images of separate things in rapid succession so for example, those on production lines or going through a scanner for example.

 This technology has the potential to revolutionize safety standards, for instance, in food production in non-destructive testing. This has the potential to detect things that previously have been undetectable using traditional imaging methods, so one of the significant achievements of the Quantico project has been to miniaturize this complex optical setup on the bench into a device about the size of a shoebox.

This project could not have gone ahead without this partnership without Alter Technology's expertise in packaging complex laser systems into extremely small form factor modules. These modular lasers were then taken by the Fraunhofer Centre for applied photonics and built into a larger system which is packaged into something about the size of a shoebox. This is a really good example of where we needed the collaboration of these partners to make something that is more than the sum of its parts.

 

QuanTICois funded by the UKRI through Innovate UK. The partners are the University of Durham, Unitive Design, Alter UK, Fraunhofer CAP and Procter & Gamble.