UK researchers search for ways to exploit unused terahertz spectrum

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Engineers from three UK universities and the London Centre for Nanotechnology have teamed up to research unlocking the last unexploited region of the electromagnetic spectrum.

University College of London, Cambridge University, Leeds University and the London Centre of Nanotechnology (a joint venture between UCL and Imperial College London) have been granted a £6.5 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to unlock underused terahertz (THz) spectrum.

The bandwidth available on the THz region, which sits between the radio and optical frequencies, is 30 times greater than the entire allocated radio spectrum.

The spectrum is currently underused due to the complexity, bulk, high power consumption and lack of coherence of THz technologies currently, according to the researchers.

Within 10 years, however, they project that we will be using THz for many purposes, from ultra-broadband wireless technology for indoor “super Wi-Fi” to THz sensing and imaging systems in production control security and medical applications.

"This programme will enable us to address the THz spectrum with the same precision and sensitivity as is today possible at radio frequencies, leading to this underused part of the electromagnetic spectrum finally achieving its full scientific and commercial potential,” said Professor Alwyn Seeds, Head of the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at UCL and Principal Investigator for the programme.

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