Optically controlled THz phased array antennas

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Engineering

Abstract

Many applications of THz radiation require sources that are compact, low-cost, and operate at room temperature.

In this project, a low-noise optically-controlled THz array antenna system will be developed, addressing a significant barrier in the adoption of THz technology. We will demonstrate a novel 'system on a chip', integrating a thin film antenna array, photodiode array, semiconductor optical amplifier (SOA) array and optical beam forming network. The SOA array enhances the pump power and ensures all array elements are evenly pumped. The beam former is used to control the phase difference between the THz radiation from different THz antennas, and thus scanning of THz beam can be realized. A THz repetition frequency mode-locked laser will be used as the light source to lock the phase of optical signals in the chip, greatly reducing the linewidth of the THz emission.

The advantages of this THz emitter system include a high peak intensity due to radiation from the antennas combining coherently, room temperature operation, continuous-wave operation, compact form factor, and a narrow steerable beam. The sources will be assessed for use in systems for high-bandwidth wireless communications and for medical imaging.

Planned Impact

The research within this proposal has the potential to impact a range of sectors and applications including imaging, wireless communications, molecular detection, security inspection, biomedicine and radar. Here we detail how we will aim to maximise the impact through working with existing partners and engaging with stakeholders from a range of sectors to open up a variety of commercialisation opportunities.

The project has a strong partner network that will support the development of the technology and offer routes to manufacture and a range of markets (Economic). UK manufacturers have expressed their interest in taking the THz devices to manufacture but also in the potential opportunities that the technology will enable in communications, a core business area. They will also directly contribute to device processing for the project. A further industrial partner will work with the research team to investigate the performance of systems against industry standards as well as providing input to designs. The NHS Medical Devices Unit has specific interests in THz imaging for clinical applications (Social) and will provide input, support and guidance to evaluate devices likely to offer benefit to patients within the NHS. Both universities have extensive experience of IP protection and commercialisation.

Beyond the core partners, we will connect with organisations with interests in novel optoelectronic technologies who have the capabilities to take outputs to market. These companies will be invited to join an industrial advisory session within the annual workshop to guide KE/Commercialisation activities.

An annual facilitated workshop will be held alternately at UCL and UoG. This will be an opportunity to present our research and gain information on user requirements involving our existing industry partners, but working with Technology Scotland, the KTN groups, and the EPSRC CDTs in Photonic Integration and Advanced Data Storage, Intelligent Sensing and Imaging, Applied Photonics, and Integrated Photonic and Electronic Systems. We will reach out to new contacts who could contribute to our programme and benefit from the outputs. This also offers the CDT cohorts additional industrial networking opportunities.

Photonics West is the key industry event in this sector and it is anticipated that the team will participate in 2019 / 2020. This is an ideal platform at which to highlight the research progress and we would aim to present jointly with our industry partners. In the UK and Europe, we aim to participate in a selection of relevant events such as Photonex, Laser World of Photonics 2019, and the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. We will also develop Public Engagement workshops that can be put on at the Glasgow (June 2021), Northern Ireland (Feb 2021) and relevant London-based Science Events. The aim of the workshops will be to educate audiences on the wide applications and potential of THz science.

Publications

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