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Graphene delivering improved terahertz detectors

A new prototype terahertz light detector uses graphene to look just beneath the surface of opaque objects such as skin and plastic, has been developed in by the University of Maryland and the US Naval Research Lab in collaboration with Australia's Monash University. It operates at room temperature at faster speeds than existing detectors in the terahertz range.

The principle it uses is the hot-electron photothermoelectric effect where graphene’s electrons absorb the light and retain the resultant energy, moving to one of two metal electrodes with different conductivities and producing an electrical signal that detects the presence of terahertz waves.

Applications are seen in the security area for body scanners and bomb detection, in healthcare for medical imaging, in consumer goods for quality control and even in new technologies such as 3D printing.

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