Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, in collaboration with scientists in Turkey and Japan, have developed a portable scanning device based on terrahertz radiation that detects more materials without the harmful effects of X-rays.
Unlike more energetic X-rays, T-rays do not have sufficient energy to 'ionize' an atom and cause cellular damage that can lead to radiation sickness or cancer. But T-rays are capable of penetrating many common materials, such as leather, fabric, cardboard and paper.
T-rays can also penetrate the human body by almost half a centimetre, and have already been used by doctors to detect and treat certain types of cancers, especially those of the skin and breast.
T-rays could not be used earlier for scanning purpose because of certain physical limitations of semi-conducting materials. Researchers had to deploy several techniques to generate signals of sufficient signal strength.
The new technology may find application in several areas, including security and cancer detection.
Terahertz Radiation Could Improve Airport Security, Detect Cancer (Associated Content)
Argonne Bolsters Efforts in Security Research (PR Newswire)