CMOS terahertz waves

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CMOS terahertz waves

IEEE – Abstract of an article…

Up until recently, the terahertz frequency range (0.3 to 3THz) has been mostly addressed by high-mobility custom III-V processes, bulky and expensive nonlinear optics, or cryogenically cooled quantum cascade lasers. A low-cost room temperature alternative will enable a wide range of applications in security, defense, ultra-high-speed wireless communication, sensors, and biomedical imaging not currently accessible due to cost and size limitations. CMOS can potentially provide such a low-cost platform, but it requires novel techniques and architectures to generate, manipulate, radiate, and detect signals above transistor fmax, which are in the sub-THz frequency region in most of today’s nodes.

Public Summary of their work…

This prove the US is a nation of tinkerers that just will not quit. These gentlemen had to overcome some serious technical obstacles to turn CMOS technology into workable terahertz chips.

It has been known for many years that electromagnetic waves in the frequency range from .3 to 3 THz can easily penetrate various materials and render high resolution images of its construction and contents.  These terahertz waves with the proper antenna and programming can also detect the fingerprints of chemicals and lead to detections of contraband like drugs, explosives, contaminates. Existing terahertz systems are bulky, power hungry expensive laser setups requiring cooling equipment.  How is this, well the higher the frequency of a radio wave the faster and more information you can load on to it.

Two engineers, Hajimiri and Sengupta,  at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have developed a tiny CMOS silicon microchip that generates and radiates waves in the terahertz electromagnetic spectrum. The waves that are a thousand times stronger than equipment and can be focused to point in specific directions, making it the world’s first integrated circuit terahertz scanning array.

It appears that this device is so small and so powerful it can be developed and used in a cell phone.

For more on this and other research of these two please visit

Ali Hajimiri and Kaushik Sengupta web pages at CalTech

People, this is a game changer for security, medicine, food production and safety, manufacturing, mining, agriculture.  It is that big.


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