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Researchers Develop Antenna for Receiving and Transmitting Terahertz Signals

A very small and flat antenna for receiving and transmitting terahertz signals has been developed by a professor and his coworkers from the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech).

Image Credit: Sakda Worachina/

THz waves are known to be a band of electromagnetic radiation that has high promise for diverse applications like security checks and wireless communication, cancer screening and dentistry, and detection of food degradation and flaws in manufactured devices.

The issue with the technology is that THz devices will need miniaturization before being adopted more extensively. The recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports makes a significant contribution to that effort.

Today, you will find bulky THz devices in laboratory or industrial settings, in some airports, hospitals, and telescopes. To enable new exciting applications, we need to get THz technologies out of the lab and into the hands and homes of ordinary people. And that means making them radically smaller.

Shihab Al-Daffaie, Study First Author and Associate Professor, Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology

This is what Al-Daffaie and his collaborators are working on: bringing THz devices and systems to an individual’s fingertips.

Almost 90% of THz devices use the bulky silicon lenses that are about 10 millimeters in diameter and 6 millimeters thick. There’s no way you can have a fingertip-sized device with that thing. So we found a way to get rid of it.

Shihab Al-Daffaie, Study First Author and Associate Professor, Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology

The antenna presented in the current research has a thickness of 0.3 mm, which is 20 times thinner compared to the cumbersome silicon lens plaguing previous designs.

Al-Daffaie states, “But this is more than a reduction in size. We can plant our THz device directly on the flat antenna, seamlessly integrating it into the system. Previously, you would put the device over the lens, sort of like a device within a device—but now we have it on the same platform.”

This integration considerably decreases the amount of optical power needed by the device without any compromise on the performance. This helps remove the need for big lasers and allows having the transmitting antenna very near to the receiving antenna.

You can put them both on the tip of a pencil,” stated Al-Daffaie. He emphasized that with prior technology, one would rather have two separate devices, each of them half a meter across.

To get an idea of how such a pencil-sized device could be used, consider biocell, liquid, or gas analysis. You could use it to test milk quality, for example. You put a drop between the two antennas. The transmitter sends THz waves to the receiver, which picks up their modulation by the substance undergoing analysis—in this case milk—to infer its composition.

Shihab Al-Daffaie, Study First Author and Associate Professor, Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology

Al-Daffaie concluded, “But remember: THz radiation is also good for wireless communication, so the beauty of this setup is that this same antenna can also relay the analysis results to a smartphone or wherever it is you want them.”

Journal Reference:

Al-Daffaie, S., et al. (2022) Design and implementation of a terahertz lens-antenna for a photonic integrated circuits based THz systems. Scientific Reports.


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