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Terahertz Spatial Light Modulator System for Adaptive Near-Field Imaging

Posted Feb 16 2011 7:00pm

Description of Invention:
The invention offered for licensing is in the field of imaging microscopes and relates to a terahertz light modulator system, and in particular to a terahertz spatial light modulator system for adaptive near-field imaging.

More specifically, the invention relates to a spatial light modulator system for adaptive near-field imaging having an optical source for transmitting an optical beam through a filter which is controlled to convert the optical light beam into a filtered optical light beam to define one or more transmission pathways through a photoconductive material. The system further includes a terahertz light source for transmitting a terahertz beam through one or more transmission pathways defined by the filtered optical light beam through the photoconductive material for illuminating and scanning the sample without the use of moving structural components. The device would allow micron-scale spatial resolution, would remove the need to mechanically scan a sample, and would allow automatic adjustment of image resolution and transmitted terahertz power. The near-field terahertz microscope of the invention could have a compact, fiber-coupled sensor head with no moving parts — ideal for scientific, medical, and industrial applications like crystal growth optimization, skin cancer diagnosis, and semiconductor chip inspection. In one application, such as "one-cut" surgery, the compact sensor head of the terahertz imaging system has the capability of distinguishing healthy cells from cancerous cells with micron-scale spatial resolution by immediately identifying a skin cancer margin without the need for laboratory work or additional surgery. In another application, the terahertz imaging system may be used in nondestructive semiconductor chip inspection since the terahertz imaging system provides micron-scale spatial resolution.

  • Biomedical research applications (living tissues have distinctive terahertz absorption signals)
  • Clinical applications like diagnostics of skin cancer (skin cancer and normal skin reflect terahertz radiation differently)
  • Industrial applications like crystal growth optimization
  • Industrial applications like semiconductor chip inspection

The system provides micron-scale spatial resolution, while removing any need to mechanically scan samples (it is equipped with a fiber-coupled sensor head), and at the same time allows automatic adjustment of image resolution and transmitted terahertz power.

Development Status:
In development. Prototype is being built.

Hari Shroff (NIBIB)

Patent Status:
HHS, Reference No. E-243-2010/0
US, Application No. 61/425,007 filed 20 Dec 2010

Relevant Publication:
  1. Mair S, Gompf B, Dressel M. Microspectroscopy and imaging in the THz range using coherent CW radiation. Phys Med Biol. 2002 Nov 7;47(21):3719-3725. [ PubMed: 12452559 ]
  2. Chen Q, Jiang Z, Xu GX, Zhang XC. Near-field terahertz imaging with a dynamic aperture. Opt Lett. 2000 Aug 1;25(15):1122-1124. [ PubMed: 18064291 ]
  3. Wallace VP, Fitzgerald AJ, Shankar S, Flanagan N, Pye R, Cluff J, Arnone DD. Terahertz pulsed imaging of basal cell carcinoma ex vivo and in vivo. Br J Dermatol. 2004 Aug;151(2):424-432. [ PubMed: 15327550 ]
  4. Hu BB, Nuss MC. Imaging with terahertz waves. Opt Lett. 1995 Aug 15;20(16):1716-1718.

Licensing Status:
Available for licensing.

Collaborative Research Opportunity:
The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering is seeking statements of capability or interest from parties interested in collaborative research to further develop, evaluate, or commercialize this technology. Please contact Hari Shroff at or 301-435-1995 for more information.

Devices/Instrumentation - Diagnostics

For Licensing Information Please Contact:
Michael Shmilovich Esq.
NIH Office of Technology Transfer
6011 Executive Blvd. Suite 325,
Rockville, MD 20852
United States
Phone: 301-435-5019
Fax: 301-402-0220

Ref No: 2222

Updated: 02/2011

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