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Efficient real-time detection of terahertz pulse radiation based on photoacoustic conversion by carbon nanotube nanocomposite

Nature Photonics volume 8, pages 537542 (2014) | Download Citation

Abstract

Terahertz sensing plays an important role in industry, biology and material science. Most existing techniques for terahertz detection either require bulky optics or need cryogenic cooling, and the uncooled thermal detectors usually suffer from long integration times (1–1,000 ms). We propose, and experimentally demonstrate, a novel scheme based on photoacoustic detection of terahertz pulse radiation. The transient and localized heating in a carbon nanotube–polymer composite by the absorption of terahertz pulse energy produces ultrasound, which is subsequently detected by a highly sensitive acoustic sensor. In contrast to conventional thermal detectors utilizing continuous heat integration, this new method of terahertz detection responds to the energy of each individual terahertz pulse by a time-gated scheme, thus rejecting the continuous radiation from the ambient. In addition, this novel detector possesses advantages such as room-temperature operation, a fast response (0.1 µs) allowing real-time detection, compact size (millimetre scale) and wide spectral response.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank H. W. Baac for input on the CNT–polymer composite structure fabrication and optimization, J. Nees for assistance with the terahertz source and J. Hart for access to his CNT growth facility. This work was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Center programme (Division of Materials Research (DMR) 1120923), the Scalable Nanomanufacturing programme (DMR 1120187), and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Author information

Author notes

    • Sung-Liang Chen

    Present address: University of Michigan–Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200240, China

Affiliations

  1. Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA

    • Sung-Liang Chen
    • , Cheng Zhang
    • , Tao Ling
    • , Momchil T. Mihnev
    • , Theodore B. Norris
    •  & L. Jay Guo
  2. Applied Physics Program, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA

    • You-Chia Chang
    •  & L. Jay Guo
  3. Center for Ultrafast Optical Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA

    • You-Chia Chang
    • , Momchil T. Mihnev
    •  & Theodore B. Norris
  4. Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA

    • Jong G. Ok
    •  & L. Jay Guo

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Contributions

S.-L.C., Y.-C.C., T.L. and L.J.G. conceived and designed the experiments. S.-L.C., Y.-C.C. and C.Z. performed the experiments and analysed the data. J.G.O. contributed CNT materials. C.Z. and T.L. prepared microring devices. M.T.M. characterized the terahertz transmission of the nanocomposite. T.B.N. suggested the use of the terahertz source. S.-L.C., T.B.N. and L.J.G. mainly wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to L. Jay Guo.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2014.96

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