Caltech researchers develop terahertz microchips for the spies and gamers among us

Caltech researchers have developed a terahertz-generating chip that, it so eloquently explains, could help a spy save the world just in the nick of time. Or, in the less sensational world, could improve cancer diagnoses and improve touchless gaming. The device works by radiating high-frequency electromagnetic waves, which can penetrate certain materials and offer a look at what's behind them like an x-ray.

The silicon microchips are inexpensive to produce, and despite their x-ray-like capabilities, do not ionize the material in the same way. Used in conjunction with mobile devices, the technology would, according to the California Institute of Technology, be useful in homeland security, health care, wireless communication, and gaming, among other things.

The Thomas G. Myers Professor of Electrical Engineering at Caltech Ali Hajimiri offered this statement. "Using the same low-cost, integrated-circuit technology that's used to make the microchips found in our cell phones and notepads today, we have made a silicon chip that can operate at nearly 300 times their speed. These chips will enable a new generation of extremely versatile sensors."

The terahertz frequency has been known as a range with a lot of potential for quite some time now, but implementation of the frequency in a useful way has been hindered by the lack of an inexpensive, compact method. The terahertz microchips developed by the Caltech researchers are small enough to fit on a single fingertip, removing that barrier. The compact size is achieved by utilizing CMOS technology.

[via Caltech]