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UD works with Russian academy on terahertz technology

2:25 p.m., Feb. 23, 2004--The University of Delaware is working with the Russian Academy of Sciences on a project to develop novel devices that emit terahertz signals for applications in biochemical identification, medical diagnostics and cancer research.

The research is being conducted at laboratories headed by James Kolodzey, professor of electrical and computer engineering at UD, and Miron Kagan, director of the Russian Academy’s Institute of Radioengineering and Electronics, with funding provided through the U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF).

“This CRDF program achieves synergy by combining the scientific strengths of the groups in St. Petersburg and Moscow in Russia with the experimental abilities of the University of Delaware,” Kolodzey said.

The UD research team is recognized as an international leader in the development of terahertz nanotechnology, last year announcing it had discovered a means to harness the power of the terahertz frequencies in a palm-sized device using a semiconductor nanostructure.

Terahertz is the final frontier in the study of electromagnetic waves, according to Kolodzey, who said that in the frequency spectrum it lies between microwaves and infrared light. It is 1,000 times higher in frequency than microwaves, which are used in cell phones and ovens, and 100 to 1,000 times lower than visible light.

Not much is known about the terahertz frequencies, Kolodzey said, and the UD team’s research is in both basic science and in practical applications.

It is known that the frequencies are strongly absorbed by molecules in the atmosphere, which makes terahertz a poor medium for long distance communication through the air, which is how the microwave frequencies are used. However, terahertz is of great value at closer ranges because of its strong interactions with materials, which could provide opportunities in chemical diagnostics and medicine.

In informing Kolodzey about the grant award, U.S. Rep. Michael Castle (R-Del.) applauded “the University of Delaware’s commitment to science and its efforts to collaborate with institutions abroad.”

Article by Neil Thomas

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