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Metamaterials used to focus Terahertz lasers, make them useful

Vlad Savov
Forget old and busted X-rays, T-rays are the future, man! It was only recently that we were discussing Terahertz lasers and their potential to see through paper, clothes, plastic, flesh, and other materials, but that discourse had to end on the sad note that nobody had managed to make them usable in a practical and economically feasible way. The major hurdle to overcome was the diffusion of Terahertz radiation -- which results in weak, unfocused lasers -- but now researchers from the universities of Harvard and Leeds seem to believe they've managed to do it. Using metamaterials to collimate T-rays into a "tightly bound, high powered beam" will, they claim, permit semiconductor lasers (i.e. the affordable kind) to perform the duties currently set aside for sophisticated machinery costing upwards of $160,000. Harvard has already filed a patent application for this innovation, and if things pan out, we might be seeing body scanners (both for medical and security purposes), manufacturing quality checks, and a bunch of other things using the extra special THz stuff to do their work.