Handheld “T-Ray” Device Locates Tumours

T-rays are based on the terahertz region of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is defined by frequencies from 0.1 to 10 terahertz — just between infrared light and microwave radiation. "Terahertz waves are the last window in the electromagnetic spectrum to be exploited by scientists," Schulkin said. With the new Mini-Z, Schulkin could help catapult T-ray technology from the lab bench to the marketplace.

Schulkin describes his "Mini-Z" as dramatically smaller and lighter than any previous terahertz device, and it already has proven its ability to detect cracks in space shuttle foam, image tumours in breast tissue, and spot counterfeit watermarks on paper currency. The system weighs approximately five pounds and fits snugly in a briefcase.

The scientists explain that T-rays can penetrate with better resolution than microwave radiation, they do not pose the same health risks as X-rays, and, unlike ultrasound, terahertz waves can provide images without contacting an object. They can provide valuable spectroscopic information about the composition of a material, especially in chemical and biological species. Scientists have been exploring the terahertz region for more than two decades, but one of the main obstacles has been the size and weight of T-ray devices. "Conventional systems are tied down to the bench," Schulkin said. "They are incredibly heavy, not portable, and require high-powered lasers, which are both expensive and large."

The Mini-Z provides real-time data with absolutely no waiting, and its user-friendly design means people do not need special training to operate it, explains Schulkin. "It's a turnkey system - all you have to do is open the box, set it up, and turn it on," Schulkin said.

COMPAMED.de; Source: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute