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  • TeraTOP Aims to Revolutionize THz Imaging
Nov 2011
ZURICH, Nov. 28, 2011 — A true on-chip integrated camera under development will allow wider use of terahertz imaging technology for airline and other security operations. The main objective of the program — dubbed TeraTOP — is to develop a device that can reduce the cost and improve the capability of terahertz imaging in various applications. The consortium of European industrial research groups and companies making the device will focus on potential security applications and will demonstrate a camera for detecting hidden objects.

The TeraTOP consortium plans to implement a completely new type of terahertz sensor based on thermally isolated nanotransistors directly integrated with CMOS-SOI (silicon-on-insulator) readout circuitry. The key target of the project is to make breakthrough advances in the functionality, performance, cost and size of a passive terahertz camera. The target technology is a room-temperature real-time imaging system based on CMOS batch manufacturing processes that are suitable for mass production. Success depends on the effective combination of several leading technologies from the broad scientific background represented by the consortium’s members. The key enabling building blocks include the following: terahertz photonic components, terahertz antennas, CMOS-SOI, nanoelectromechanical systems and frequency-selection technologies from the astronomy community.

TeraTOP intends to build on the knowledge and experience gained during previous projects. Infrared imaging sensors based on CMOS-SOI-microelectromechanical systems technology have been developed before. However, significant advances are to be expected from this new initiative if the TeraTOP team is to achieve its goals. Underlying the project are several important THz-related patents and patent applications submitted by two of the project partners: Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) and IBM Haifa Research Labs. The TeraTOP project hopes for a significant product that can be implemented rapidly on a broad scale across Europe.

TeraTOP is a three-year project funded by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework. With a total budget of €3.15 million, it is led by Nicolas Blanc of Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique SA (CSEM, the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology). The consortium consists of CSEM, Technion, IBM Haifa Research Labs, IBM Research GmbH in Switzerland, CEA-LETI of France, the University of Wuppertal in Germany, EADS Deutschland GmbH of Germany, and QMC Instruments Ltd. in the UK. Additional leading experts in the field of THz technology will form an external advisory board to assist the consortium.

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