New flexible terahertz camera allows viewing objects of various shapes

In the digital age, the use of the “Internet of Things” (devices with embedded

software and sensors).These include wireless and autonomous equipment, wearable sensors and security systems. Due to their complex structure and properties, it becomes necessary to study them thoroughly in order to assess safety, usefulness, and also eliminate any potential defects. But, at the same time, damage to the device should be avoided during inspection.

Terahertz (THz) imaging based onradiation with frequencies from 0.1 to 10 THz, is one such non-destructive method that is rapidly gaining popularity due to its high resolution and sensitivity. However, conventional terahertz cameras are bulky and rigid, which limits their ability to capture uneven surfaces. Moreover, the high cost and lack of versatility in sensor configurations make them a rather impractical alternative requiring more flexible sensors.

A group of researchers from TokyoInstitute of Technology, led by Associate Professor Yukio Kavano, solved the problem by developing a flexible and free-standing terahertz sensor array that can be used to visualize the blind ends of irregular objects.

“Given the variety of shapes, structures and sizestest objects, camera design and sensor must be adapted to different configurations. In our study, we have developed a simple and cost-effective method for making shape-shifting THz cameras, ”explains Dr. Cavanaugh.

Unique 2D THz camera patch can weakenrestrictions concerning the shape and position of the samples for measurements. The proposed technology can potentially create a new line of research for universal sheet sensors by including terahertz, thermal, deformation and biochemical sensors in the process of self-leveling filtration. Credit: Tokyo Tech.

The material used in such sensors musthave good absorption in the THz spectrum along with a high conversion efficiency of radiation into detectable electrical signals. For this reason, they chose films of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) that have good mechanical strength and flexibility. The deposition of electrodes on a patterned polyimide film formed a connecting sheet of the THz camera. This patch camera can be easily cut with scissors into smaller portable and wearable probes that can be attached to the surface of the test object for better coverage. The researchers were able to demonstrate its industrial applications by detecting and visualizing cracks, impurities and uneven coating of polymers in the resin, as well as detecting sediment in the bent pipe, thereby highlighting the camera's potential in quality control operations.

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