Terahertz Technology is Advancing – Change from Pure Scientific to Commercial Use Observerd

Distribution of costs for all terahertz systems from worldwide manufacturers. The box shows the normalized cost development for optical pulsed terahertz systems as an example.

A new survey of the SKZ in Wuerzburg, Germany, analyses current uses and development opportunities of the terahertz technology. In contrast to earlier review articles, notice, activities and current market availability were analyzed. The focus was on testing and measurement applications, which were identified as one of the most suitable scenarios.
Nowadays, the term „terahertz“ for the electromagnetic spectrum between infrared light and microwaves substitutes the former synonyms far-infrared or sub-millimeter waves. Nevertheless, the new term ushers in a new era for generating and detecting terahertz radiation and therefore for its usage and novel applications. Many isolators like plastics, ceramics or paper can be radiographed and tested – without ionizing radiation and contact-free. A lot of potential applications have already been presented and discussed, for instance the usage in non-destructive testing (NDT), analytics or process monitoring.
That these scenarios are more than pure scientific guess shows the new analysis. Its results show a continuing interest on the terahertz technology. One reason is the constant number of internet search queries regarding the term „terahertz“ in the last ten years. The annual growth rate of publications is approx. 16 %. Nowadays, 55 % are engineering articles in contrast to almost exclusively pure scientific publications at the beginning of the terahertz technology. Also, the number of patent applications increases with an annual growth rate of more than twenty percent since 2000. By now, more than twenty terahertz systems manufacturer are active world-wide (without universities or research institutes). That means more than thirty manufacturers and distributors for costumers in the Germany, Austria and Switzerland. On average every year a new supplier enters the market.
The centers of commercialization and target markets are North America, Asia and Europe with a special focus in Germany. Currently, many different terahertz systems are available. For instance, a wide variety of all-electronic or electro-optical as well as pulsed or continuous wave systems are in market. The frequencies range from 0.02 up to 30 THz. Also, the price categories are wide-spreaded: The cheapest terahertz systems costs approx. 15 000 Euro up to more than 250 000 Euro for full-encapsulated systems (see Fig.). The system types range from small turn-key systems with only one liter installation size up to king-sized lab analyzing apparatuses with more than 300 liters.
The rising competition will lead to falling costs for terahertz systems in the future as well. Due to the his-toric development an annual price reduction of approx. 10 % can be estimated. The annual growth rate in the corresponding segment of well-establishes terahertz supplier is in the magnitude of 5 – 20 % and is in good accordance to the predictions in the past.
These trends show the change from the pure scientific interest to a more commercial view on the terahertz technology. In future, the potential client should meet very motivated terahertz system suppliers and a wide range of choice. (Source: Optik & Photonik 1 / 2015)

Referenz: T. Hochrein: “Markets, Availability, Notice, and Technical Performance of Terahertz Systems: Historic Development, Present, and Trends”, J. Infrared, Millimeter, and Terahertz Waves (2014), DOI: 10.1007/s10762-014-0124-6
Links: SKZ

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