Terahertz waves are becoming ever more important in science and technology. They enable us to unravel the properties of future materials, test the quality of automotive paint and screen envelopes. But generating these waves is still a challenge. A team of researchers has now developed a germanium component that generates short terahertz pulses with an advantageous property: the pulses have an extreme broadband spectrum and thus deliver many different terahertz frequencies at the same time.
As it has been possible to manufacture the component employing methods already used in the semiconductor industry, the development promises a broad range of applications in research and technology.
This should turn gold-doped germanium into an interesting option not just for scientific applications, such as the detailed analysis of innovative two-dimensional materials such as graphene, but also for applications in medicine and environmental technology. Sensors that trace certain gases in the atmosphere by means of their terahertz spectrum, is another application. Today’s terahertz waves sources are still too expensive for the purpose. The new methods could help to make environmental sensors like this much cheaper in the future.