Engineering 101

Imager Microchip Brings Hidden Objects to Light

The University of Texas at Dallas and Oklahoma State University developed a new terahertz imager microchip that enables devices to detect and create images through obstacles including fog, smoke, dust, and snow. They are working to enable industrial applications that require imaging up to 20 meters away and in automotive apps to help drivers or autonomous vehicle systems navigate through reduced visibility.

The microchip emits radiation beams in the terahertz range (430 GHz) of the electromagnetic spectrum from pixels no larger than a grain of sand. Beams travel through obstacles that optical light cannot penetrate and bounce off objects and back to the microchip. There, the pixels pick up the signal to create images. Without external lenses, the terahertz imager includes the microchip and a reflector that increases the imaging distance and quality and reduces power consumption.

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