Single-pixel 'multiplex' spatial light modulator captures terahertz images

June 30, 2014 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
The ability to image a scene with THz could be used to screen for cancerous skin cells, monitor airports and other secure areas for illegal drugs or explosives, and perform personnel screening to look for concealed weapons

A team led by Boston College researchers reports in the online edition of the journal Nature Photonics, that a novel metamaterial enables a fast, efficient and high-fidelity terahertz radiation imaging system capable of manipulating the such electromagnetic waves.

The team reports it developed a "multiplex" tunable spatial light modulator (SLM) that uses a series of filter-like "masks" to retrieve multiple samples of a terahertz (THz) scene, which are reassembled by a single-pixel detector, said Boston College Professor of Physics Willie Padilla, a lead author of the report.

Data obtained from these encoded measurements are used to computationally reconstruct the images as much as six times faster than traditional raster scan THz devices, the team reports. In addition, the device employs an efficient low power source, said Padilla, whose research team worked with colleagues from the University of New Mexico and Duke University.

Developed by a team of researchers from Boston College, the University of New Mexico and Duke University, a "multiplex" single pixel imaging process effectively tames stubborn terahertz (THz) light waves with electronic controls in a novel metamaterial. As the graphic shows, THz image waves are received by a metamaterial spatial light modulator, which in turn sends multiple data points from the THz scene to a single-pixel detector, which computationally reconstructs the image faster, more efficiently and with higher-fidelity than conventional THz imaging technology. Credit: Nature Photonics.