Optically controlled THz phased array antennas

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


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.


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Description (TERAOPTICS) - Terahertz Photonics for Communications, Space, Security, Radio-Astronomy, and Material Science
Amount € 3,974,527 (EUR)
Funding ID 956857 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 08/2020 
End 08/2024
Description Epitaxial growth of UTC photodiodes 
Organisation Chinese Academy of Sciences
Department Chinese Institute of Semiconductors
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have fabricated UTC photodiodes from IOS material.
Collaborator Contribution IOS has supplied epitaxial wafers.
Impact Results in progress.
Start Year 2018
Description Engineering Scotland Innovation Lecture, 10 February, 2021 on 'Photons in the cloud - dream or reality?' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact More than 90 people attended the presentation which sparked 20 minutes of questions and discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/engineering-scotland-innovation-lecture-2021-10th-february-6pm-zoom-t...
Description Microsoft Research Lecture in the Optics for the Cloud Series: 13 June 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The Optics for the Cloud series features leading researchers giving public talks on cutting-edge topics

The lecture was on the topic 'Photons in the cloud: communicating and storing data'. It led to a strong question and discussion and to further engagement with Microsoft..
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/event/optics-for-the-cloud-lecture-series/
Description Research Outreach article. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Published outreach article in research outreach on UCL work on UTC-PDs and their application to wireless communication. The article was published both online and in a paper magazine and accompanied by a Twitter campaign. The readership so far has been above 1000 readers and it has generated a number of contact and discussion already with different industrial potential partners and academic partners in different disciplines.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://cdn.researchoutreach.org/Flipbooks/RO119/index.html#
Description Teranet International Workshop on Terahertz Communications Wed 21st July 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dear members of Teranet,

We are pleased to announce a Teranet International Workshop on the emerging field of Terahertz Communications to be held on Wednesday 21st July, 11am to 2pm UK time, which will be hosted by University College London and the University of Glasgow via Zoom.
Registration is free; please use the following eventbrite link to register for the meeting by 7th July 2021: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/160588449375
(please contact Vicki McGrath (v.mcgrath@ucl.ac.uk) if you have any problems with the form). A Zoom link to the meeting and a final agenda will be circulated to registrants in time for the meeting. Feel free to share this email with any students, PDRAs, or staff who may be interested in the Workshop.
There will be three sessions, covering the topics of terahertz sources, modulation and detection.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021