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Nature. 2004 Nov 18;432(7015):376-9.

Metal wires for terahertz wave guiding.

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  • 1Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, MS 366, Rice University, Houston, Texas 77251-1892, USA.


Sources and systems for far-infrared or terahertz (1 THz = 10(12) Hz) radiation have received extensive attention in recent years, with applications in sensing, imaging and spectroscopy. Terahertz radiation bridges the gap between the microwave and optical regimes, and offers significant scientific and technological potential in many fields. However, waveguiding in this intermediate spectral region still remains a challenge. Neither conventional metal waveguides for microwave radiation, nor dielectric fibres for visible and near-infrared radiation can be used to guide terahertz waves over a long distance, owing to the high loss from the finite conductivity of metals or the high absorption coefficient of dielectric materials in this spectral range. Furthermore, the extensive use of broadband pulses in the terahertz regime imposes an additional constraint of low dispersion, which is necessary for compatibility with spectroscopic applications. Here we show how a simple waveguide, namely a bare metal wire, can be used to transport terahertz pulses with virtually no dispersion, low attenuation, and with remarkable structural simplicity. As an example of this new waveguiding structure, we demonstrate an endoscope for terahertz pulses.

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