Terahertz Spectroscopy Enables Materials Physics Discoveries

By merging terahertz (THz) spectroscopy with real-time monitoring, scientists are putting forth a ground-breaking strategy to speed up the discovery of new materials.

Electromagnetic waves, known as terahertz waves, can expose the mysteries of matter. They are capable of capturing quick changes in materials that are hidden from other radiation kinds. Scientists can now utilize terahertz radiation more quickly than ever to capture real-time videos of heated electrons in silicon at 50,000 frames per second. The group employed two methods: photonic time-stretch and chirped-pulse encoding.

In the first method, a chirped supercontinuum in the optical region—which resembles a traveling rainbow—is imprinted with the information delivered by a THz pulse. The second slow down the pace of information so that it may be captured in real-time by sophisticated electronic apparatus by stretching the rainbow pulse in time inside a long fiber. To create a video of the low-energy dynamics inside a material, these stages are repeated using a train of pulses spaced 20 microseconds apart.

This paper offers a unique photonics device with a time resolution of close to a microsecond. They can assess the low-energy dynamics of complicated physical events in real time. The device is unique because it substitutes a technology previously only available in huge synchrotron facilities. It performs fast time-resolved terahertz spectroscopy, a powerful method for analyzing various materials.

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