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Ingrid Wilke
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Ingrid Wilke, associate professor of physics
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Advancing Terahertz
Wave Science

Rensselaer is developing new instrumentation to advance terahertz (THz) wave science and technology. Ingrid Wilke, associate professor of physics and a member of the Center for Terahertz Research at Rensselaer, has been awarded an NSF grant to develop the new THz radiation source. The multidisciplinary project involves researchers from physics, electrical engineering, and materials science.

Continued THz progress requires radiation sources that have narrow bandwidth and high power (1-50mW), are broadly tunable (0.03-0.9 THz), and can operate at room temperature. Such THz sources do not exist.

Wilke and her colleagues in the THz Center — X.-C. Zhang, M.S. Shur, and M. Yamaguchi, in addition to G.-W. Wang and T.-M. Lu (Physics), and M. Shima (Materials Science) — will develop a radiation source that meets the requirements, basing it on commercially available backward wave oscillators.

Once built, the instrument will be used for research in such fields as THz plasma wave electronics, magnetic nanostructures, and THz chemical and explosive imaging.

“It also will enable understanding and discovery of complex phenomena of THz radiation interaction with nanostructures,” said Wilke. “With the unique rotational and vibrational properties of materials in the THz-frequency range, using this technology will allow scientists to see things in new ways, whether it’s engineered materials or biological tissues,” she added.

Interest in THz radiation is rapidly growing as a way to probe fundamental interactions in physics, chemistry, biology, and materials science. Rensselaer’s Terahertz Center houses a multidisciplinary group of researchers who are exploring that portion of the electromagnetic spectrum falling between microwave and infrared frequencies.

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