Teraphysics Corp. of Cleveland, a developer of compact devices that operate in the terahertz band of the spectrum, has received a $730,000 Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from the Army Research Office to develop technology to enable new capabilities in threat detection systems. "The technology developed in this contract will enable a new class of systems for detection of hidden weapons, explosives and contraband for military and homeland security applications," said Jim Dayton, chief technology officer for Teraphysics and principal investigator on the contract. Teraphysics has received 12 development contracts (four being SBIR Phase II contracts) from seven government agencies for a total of $4 million in federal funding since August 2002. The Army wants to develop a handheld terahertz source as part of an imaging system that can be deployed to protect sensitive installations, Dayton said. To meet the Army's specifications for a 0.65 terahertz prototype producing at least 100 mW within two years, Dayton and his team will develop backward wave oscillators and traveling wave tubes using the company's proprietary application of nanotechnology for laboratory-grown diamond. The result is an electronic oscillator with portability, power, efficiency and tunability. Following completion of the contract, Teraphysics said it intends to commercialize its terahertz signal technology for military and commercial security applications. Terahertz radiation is non-ionizing and safe for humans and can identify the unique molecular signatures of substances. It offers significant advantages in medical imaging, homeland security, high-speed wireless networks, space exploration and other applications. For example, it can penetrate clothing to detect hidden items and be used to image skin cancers, Teraphysics said.