Non-destructive material testing

Terahertz (THz) technology has great potential in the areas of non-destructive material testing, communication and security technology. A particularly powerful technique is the THz time domain spectroscopy, in which short THz pulses are coherently detected in amplitude and phase. The key components are efficient THz sources and low-noise detectors. We develop these components, in particular we offer large-area photoconductive emitters that allow one to conveniently produce strong THz waves upon pulsed near-infrared laser excitation.

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Terahertz Technology

Terahertz radiation lies on the electromagnetic spectrum between the long-wave radio and microwaves and the invisible infrared range.

The technology for the terahertz range uses concepts from high-frequency electronics as well as from optics. In the last 20 years there has been a significant further development in THz components such as radiation sources, detectors and modulators.

Large-area photoconductive radiation sources have been developed at the HZDR, which have a number of advantages such as:

  • High efficiency in the conversion of near-infrared power to THz power
  • Easy to use
  • Possibility of generating radiation with radial and azimuthal polarization in addition to the usual linear polarization. Radially polarized radiation is particularly suitable, for example, for transport using wire waveguides.
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Development of a complete THz radiation source and distributions of the electric field for linear, radial and azimuthally polarized fields. The points in the beam profile are experimental data, the lines come from a theoretical model.

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Application areas

THz radiation is interesting in many ways because it penetrates optically opaque materials such as paper or plastics, but, unlike X-rays, does not have an ionizing effect and therefore does not pose any health risks. Using THz spectroscopy, different materials such as semiconductors or organic substances can be characterized and identified. THz technology is already being used more widely in security technology, for example in the form of body scanners at airports. A very promising area of application is non-destructive material testing, for example when checking composite materials. In addition, high-performance communication systems are developing towards higher carrier frequencies and thus reaching the terahertz range.

Learn more about Terahertz Technology


What we offer

We have in-depth expertise on THz radiation sources and detectors as well as spectroscopic methods, which we provide as a consulting service.

We also offer various radiation sources for use with short-pulse laser sources that differ in their electrode geometry and area and can therefore be optimally adapted to the respective application. The large-area sources allow efficient use of the power of modern systems, which is not possible with standard antennas due to saturation effects.

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Application example Terased

THz radiotion source for the lab bench


In the electromagnetic spectrum, terahertz radiation lies between the infrared range and microwaves. It offers new applications in materials research, medicine and other areas that have recently been intensively researched. With the TeraSED, researchers at the HZDR have developed an innovative, compact terahertz source.

Laser Quantum - a Novanta Company
Laser Quantum is a manufacturer of high quality solid-state and ultrafast laser sources.
Dr. Gregor Klatt, Business Development Manager representing the Photonics business units within Novanta
For more than a decade, we have trusted the large THz sources of the HZDR, which are there under the direction of Dr. Stephan Winnerl are manufactured in the highest quality.

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Contact for Requests

Dr. Stephan Winnerl

Phone: +49 351 260 3522

s.winnerl@hzdr.de