Discovery & Innovation
Student Prize Awarded
On Feb. 16, Rensselaer announced Brian Schulkin, a doctoral student in physics, as the winner of the first-ever $30,000 Lemelson-Rensselaer Student Prize. His device, called “Mini-Z,” could help catapult T-ray technology touted as the next breakthrough in sensing and imaging from the lab bench to the marketplace.
Based on the terahertz region of the electromagnetic spectrum, T-rays are useful for imaging defects within materials without destroying the objects or even removing them from their setting, according to Schulkin.
Scientists have been exploring the terahertz region for more than two decades, but one of the main obstacles has been the incredible size and weight of T-ray devices.
Schulkin’s ultralight, handheld device is dramatically smaller and lighter than any previous terahertz device, and it already has proven its ability to detect cracks in space shuttle foam, image tumors in breast tissue, and spot counterfeit watermarks on paper currency. The system, which weighs less than five pounds and fits snugly in a briefcase, could open the door to a wide range of applications in homeland security, biomedical imaging, and nondestructive testing of industrial components.