It's only September but we're starting to think
ahead to Photonics West 2013 (Feb 2-5 at Moscone Center in San
Francisco - currently our booth allocation is 2517 South Hall).
We're excited about our new exhibition booth which will have its
first outing at the event, and also about some of the activity
that's already starting to take shape. For example, we're
sponsoring a THz imaging seminar at BiOS - part of SPIE Photonics
West 2013, BiOS is a global forum on the frontier of
biomedical imaging, biophotonics, optical microscopy, optogenetics
and, generally, the intersection of optics, photonics and molecular
biology, diagnostics and therapeutics.
Sponsoring the event at BiOS sits well with
some other research we're involved in at Strathclyde University in
Scotland. Together with the University itself, the Scottish
Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA) and the Scottish Universities
Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA) we have been funding work on the use
of terahertz spectroscopy in bimolecular analysis.
Terahertz radiation is part of the
electromagnetic spectrum and sits between the far-infrared and the
microwave bands at approximately 0.1-20 THz. As it lies
between the infrared and the microwave parts of the spectrum,
terahertz shares some of their features such as microwaves' ability
to pass through non-conducting materials such as masonry and
clothing (but it can't pass through water or water vapour). This
makes it very useful in imaging / scanning applications such as
providing "eyes" for helicopter pilots landing and taking off in
clouds of dust.
It has applications in medical imaging because, while
it can penetrate living tissue like an X-ray, the photon energy is
much lower and so much less damaging. The work we are supporting at
Strathclyde University makes use of the potential of low frequency
terahertz radiation to detect intermolecular interactions including
van der Waals forces and hydrogen bonding (in turn because organic
molecules exhibit low frequency vibrational modes deriving from
interactions among bonded atoms inside molecules). Applications
investigated include analysis of DNA, amino acids and peptides. THz
spectra have been obtained for complex molecules such as both
double and single-stranded DNA. Clear spectra were also obtained
for single amino acids but the increasing complexity of peptides
masked a clear signal in the range the team investigated.
Keep an eye on our website for the forthcoming
publication of the new datasheet for the Firefly-THz, our tuneable,
maintenance free, hands free, ultra compact terahertz source which
is used in engineering inspection, security, and biomedical
Special thanks to T. Harwood and Dr. E. Ellis at
Strathclyde Insititute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Science.