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UCL, Cambridge University and the University of Leeds are opening up the terahertz spectrum for widespread application through COTS (Coherent Terahertz Systems), an EPSRC-funded research programme.

The terahertz (THz) frequency region within the electromagnetic spectrum covers a frequency range of about one hundred times that currently occupied by all radio, television, cellular radio, Wi-Fi, radar and other users, and has proven and potential applications ranging from molecular spectroscopy through to communications, high resolution imaging (e.g. in the medical and pharmaceutical sectors) and security screening. Yet, the underpinning technology for the generation and detection of radiation in this spectral range remains severely limited, being based principally on Ti:sapphire (femtosecond) pulsed laser and photoconductive detector technology, the THz equivalent of the spark transmitter and coherer receiver for radio signals. The THz frequency range therefore does not benefit from the coherent techniques routinely used at microwave/optical frequencies.

Our vision is to open up the THz spectrum for widespread scientific and commercial application, through the use of photonics-enabled coherent techniques. This will be achieved by bringing together optical communications technology-based techniques, for the generation of high spectral purity continuous wave (CW) THz frequency signals, with state of-the-art THz quantum cascade laser (QCL) technology.

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