A Microscope Capable of Super-Resolution Far-Field THz Imaging

Tech ID: 18-120

Inventors: Dr. Greg Hartland, Dr. Masaru Kuno

Date added: October 16, 2020


A THz microscope capable of both high spatial resolution and a wide field of view for imaging and chemical analysis applications.

Technology Summary

THz spectroscopy is a useful tool in measurement science due to the fact that many materials have unique spectral “fingerprints” in the THz frequency range. Applications of THz imaging include medical imaging, analysis of pharmaceuticals, mapping water in biological samples, determining the mobility and concentration of charge carriers in semiconductor nanomaterials and prototype devices, non-destructive analysis of integrated circuit packages, and identification of traces amounts of chemicals, such as residues from explosives. Current-state-of-the-art THz imaging devices are based on one of three technologies: recording the transmission of a THz beam by a detector or an array of detectors, apertureless THz near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM), and THz emission imaging. With all three forms of THz measurement technology, there exists a trade-off between spatial resolution and field of view in measurement in imaging devices.  

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have developed a THz microscope capable of overcoming the spatial resolution and measurement field of view trade-off performance gap in THz imaging. This super-resolution far-field THz microscope is a better alternative than the commercially available THz imaging systems because it is able to record images over a much wider range than NSOM and has a much higher spatial resolution than conventional THz microscopes. The spatial resolution is not as high as the NSOM instruments, but this is not required for the majority of THz imaging applications. This allows for imaging of larger samples faster than NSOM. The performance of this THz microscope achieves field of view and spatial resolution equivalent to that of a regular visible wavelength confocal microscope. Additionally, this microscope is capable of recording images of different types of samples at a single THz excitation wavelength, or recording THz spectra at a specific position on the sample. This allows researchers to map chemical composition or the concentration and mobility of charge carriers in materials.  

Market Advantages

•    Higher spatial resolution than conventional THz microscopy (a few hundred nanometers compared to mm)
•    Wider field of view than the near-field scanning optical microscopy (hundreds of microns compared to tens of nm) 
•    Allows for imaging of larger samples faster than current microscopy technology. 

Market Opportunity

•    $42.5 Million from Fortune 1000 
•    $50 Million from Research Universities
•    7.8% CAGR for global microscope market

Technology Readiness Status

TRL2 - Technology Concept Formulated


Richard Cox