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NSF awards University of Arizona researchers $530,000 for development of new spectral imager
Date:11/30/2011

Researchers at the University of Arizona College of Engineering have been awarded $530,000 to develop a unique piece of scientific equipment that will further spectral imaging research.

The National Science Foundation made the award, under its Major Research Instrumentation Program, to fund the development of a terahertz spectral imager to be housed in the University Spectroscopy and Imaging Facilities.

The custom-made spectral imager will emit electromagnetic radiation, or spectra, in the terahertz range of frequencies, and analyze how the spectra are absorbed and reflected by various materials, such as cell tissues and chemical compounds.

No instrument with the spectral imager's proposed capabilities currently exists at any university. It will enable scientists and engineers to expand the frontiers of research in areas such as medical imaging of tumors and pathogens, detection of specific chemicals such as explosives, and the study of metamaterials, which are engineered materials that do not occur in nature.

The principal investigator for the three-year project, UA professor of electrical and computer engineering Richard Ziolkowski, also expects the imager to attract high-tech industries and high-caliber researchers. "It will be a unique instrument in an area that is really starting to grow," Ziolkowski said. "There are jobs now being created in the terahertz area because people are interested in systems such these imaging devices."

Terahertz radiation is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, just like light, radio waves and X-rays. The scarcely researched terahertz band lies between microwave and optical frequencies and is known as the "terahertz gap." All these spectral frequencies can be used for imaging: for instance, astronomers use light and radio telescopes to study the emission spectra of celestial phenomena, and doctors use X-rays to see deep into body tissue.

Although terahertz radiation can pen
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Contact: Pete Brown
communications@engr.arizona.edu
520-621-3754
University of Arizona College of Engineering
Source:Eurekalert  

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NSF awards University of Arizona researchers $530,000 for development of new spectral imager
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