Why you’ll soon be hearing all about ‘Terahertz Scanners’.
Several exciting new uses are being trialed for devices which can scan objects and create an image using beams of terahertz radiation. Much like an x-ray can see through clothes and skin to image your bones, T-rays can produce similar images, but with new techniques they could soon see uses in held held devices, as opposed to the room-sized scanners required for x-rays.
One report describes a device that is small enough to fit on a silicone chip and operate at room temperature, which could be used as a security screening device for weapons, for medical imaging, or even for drug ‘sniffing’. The Imperial College in London, who created the device, say that it can sense any molecule, because every one has a unique signature in the THz range.
Elsewhere, the New York Police Department and the Department of Defense are using similar technology specifically for weapons screening. Privacy issues aside, the Police hope to one day use the scanner in place of a more invasive pat-down to check for weapons. Their current prototype has a range of up to five metres, but they hope to extend that to 25 metres (85 feet).
That device scans for the terahertz waves which are naturally emitted by our bodies. The waves pass through any non-conductive material like clothing, but are blocked by conductors such as your keys, mobile phones, or more importantly a knife or gun.
Expect to see these techniques and even more uses for terahertz scanners in the news over the next few years. While privacy advocates will be upset at the thought of an invisible Police probe able to target you from down the block, nerds and geeks should be thrilled at the thought that it could soon be used to build a real life tricorder.
Wasn’t it Ben Franklin that said “Those who would give up freedom for security deserve neither and will loose them both”