Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology have developed a handy portable terahertz scanning device based on carbon nanotubes. Recall that the spectrum of terahertz (THz) radiation is located between the infrared and superhigh frequency ranges.
It is assumed that the device will have a wide range of applications, including for non-invasive studies of hard and soft tissues, including cancer cells, blood clots, sweat glands, teeth. There are also applications in tomography and medical equipment for drug delivery.
Medical terahertz devices are a promising area of diagnostics for non-invasive monitoring of human tissues. However, THz waves are poorly visualized and reproduce curvilinear contours of three-dimensional objects. In addition, THz devices used for airport scanning rotate around humans, making them very bulky, in part because they are made of materials that require cooling to operate.
To solve this problem, Japanese scientists used arrays of carbon nanotubes that work efficiently at room temperature. On their basis, photodetectors operating in the visible, infrared and THz ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum were created.
Going forward, the researchers anticipate that the use of their THz scanner will expand the capabilities of non-invasive pharmaceutical screening, nutritional control and medical monitoring.