If you are one of those curious lot who always look at things and wonder, “what’s lying inside?”, then this news is definitely going to thrill you. In this era of smart phones, imaging technology is soaring to new heights. Camera is no more just a means of clicking pictures, shooting videos and developing panoramic images using apps for entertainment. In the near future, you will be able to use your phone’s camera to see through the walls, or anything for that matter.
Mobile phones will be endowed with this new technology, thanks to a new form of computer chip that functions within a part of the radio spectrum which is known as the terahertz range. The wavelength of radiation lying within this range is shorter than high-frequency radio and longer than that of infrared light.
Just like X rays, Terahertz radiations can also penetrate solid objects but without damaging the tissues because it doesn’t carry as much energy as X-rays do. Terahertz frequencies are more advantageous as compared to X Rays. They can see through dense materials, such as flesh or water as well. Moreover, these frequencies are capable of detecting whether an object is made up of plastic or metal. An X-Ray machine can only disclose the shape.
Devices powered by Terahertz are making their way into security and law enforcement for obvious reasons. The only drawback is that they are expensive and big and thus their setup poses challenge. Even the most portable versions of these devices are equivalent to bulky TV cameras in size. The solution to this issue, however, has also been devised by engineers. Kaushik Sengupta and Ali Hajimiri, electrical engineers from California, have conceived ways to bring down the size of the devices to something that can befit a handheld device. They have invented a microchip that has the capability of both receiving and broadcasting terahertz radiations.
The technology used in the chip is identical to that used in computers and mobile phones. The real challenge was to deliver a chip that could receive and transmit terahertz frequencies. The best way found by the engineers to accomplish this challenge was to several transistors on the operational device at the same time. The synchronization of the transistors is done is such a manner that they waves generated by them reinforce some frequencies while cancel the others.
There was, however, another problem that the researchers still had to resolve- after a defined frequency the transistor would stop operating and thus stop amplifying the signal. This defined frequency is known as cut-off frequency. The engineers were able to make the chip transmit and get around this problem as well by simply operating the transistors in a synchronized manner. The direction of signal was also under control.
The third hurdle that the researchers had to move past was to fit an antenna on the silicon chip so that it can absorb radio energy. By shaping the silicon chip as well as the antenna in a specific way, they developed something like a guitar’s resonator that was capable of broadcasting terahertz frequencies.
The chip can be put to multiple uses, one of the main uses being data transmission. The higher will be the radio wave’s frequency, the more data can be transmitted. The frequency of this signal is higher as compared to Wi-Fi so the downloads are also faster.
If such chips are induced into Smart phones, they could be utilized to pass terahertz radiations through layers of clothing, soft tissues or thin walls of boxes. An adjacent chip can pick up the reflected signal and an analysis of information can be made using a computer based program. The resultant image or information can be displayed on a phone’s screen. Now, this is what we call real technological evolution.
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