Chemical recognition with broadband THz spectroscopy

Bernd M. Fischer, Hanspeter Helm, Peter Uhd Jepsen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


THz science is developing rapidly in Europe as well as the rest of the world. There is a strong interest in the exploitation of optical technologies in the THz frequency range in virtually all fields of basic and applied sciences of physics, chemistry, biology as well as medicine. Commercial interest in this field has also been growing, spurred by the potential of tHz tools in quality control and the biotechnology sector. We will review some contrast mechanisms, which form the basis for real-world applications of THz technology, in particular in the fields of applied chemistry and biotechnology. Whereas narrow bandwidth THz technology may become important for e.g. real-time imaging at larger standoff distances, we will concentrate on broad bandwidth THz technologies for spectroscopic identification of various substances. It has recently been established that the 0.1-5 THz spectral range contains unique fingerprints of a very large number of crystalline materials, including explosives, illicit drugs as well as most other chemicals in powder form. Since many packaging materials are transparent to THz radiation this fundamental property of crystalline compounds allows remote (contact-free)sensing combined with chemical recognition. On the other hand, the THz spectrum of amorphous system, including aqueous solutions, contains very little information about the detailed composition of the system. However, under certain conditions it is still possible to learn a great deal about amorphous systems with broadband THz spectroscopy. Amorphous systems of great biotechnical importance include DNA and proteins, both in aqueous solution and as dried matter. We will discuss methods for THz science and technology to attack the very complex problems involved in the extraction of useful new information which may be difficult, expensive, or impossible to obtain with other methods from minute amounts of biomaterial.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the IEEE
Volume95, No. 8
Publication date2004
Publication statusPublished - 2004
EventTeraHertz for Defence and Security - Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 1 Jan 2004 → …


ConferenceTeraHertz for Defence and Security
CityAdelaide, Australia
Period01/01/2004 → …


  • THz-imaging
  • THz-TDS
  • Chemical recognition

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