Rensselaer to open new Terahertz Research Center

December 03, 2003

TROY, N.Y. -- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will mark the expansion of its terahertz research facilities with a gathering of pioneers and other experts in the field, for a discussion of the history and promise of this emerging technology.

The terahertz (THz) frequency range -- or "T-rays" -- presents the next frontier in imaging science and technology. Researchers at Rensselaer have used advanced THz technology to uncover small defects in the foam used for space shuttle insulation. Terahertz waves also offer enormous potential to find answers to problems as varied as asbestos or radiation contamination, or to search for landmines, plastic explosives, or weapons. There are also potential applications in medical imaging, agriculture, forensic science, and food safety.

President Shirley Ann Jackson, Dean of Science Joseph Flaherty, Physics Chair Gwo-Ching Wang, Professor Xi-Cheng Zhang, and honored guests will join the Rensselaer community in dedicating the new W. M. Keck Laboratory for Terahertz Science in the Center for Terahertz Research at Rensselaer. The Dec. 5 ceremonies will include a "Conversation on Terahertz" and a "Technical Symposium on Terahertz Research." The programs will be held in the George M. Low Center for Industrial Innovation, Room 4050, beginning at 10:45 a.m., and are open to the public

Zhang, along with two other distinguished pioneers in terahertz research - Daniel Grischkowsky, Oklahoma State University; and Yuen-Ron Shen, the University of California at Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory - will participate in the "Conversation on Terahertz Research," moderated by President Jackson beginning at 11 a.m. They will discuss the history and potential applications of terahertz research, and take questions from the audience.

The "Technical Symposium on Terahertz Research," from 1 to 4 p.m., will include an overview of terahertz science, its history and promise, a review of recent research results, and a discussion of potential applications.

The new Keck Laboratory, on the ninth floor of the Low Center, will expand Rensselaer's pioneering work in the development of terahertz (THz) science and technology. With the support of a W. M. Keck Foundation grant, the new world-class lab will be equipped with advanced instrumentation including a three-phase terawatt system, which uses an amplified laser pulse to produce a high-powered terahertz wave. The lab also is outfitted with an infrared spectrometer, optical tables, and a vacuum deposition system.

Rensselaer was recently awarded a $3.86 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund 15 fellowships to enhance interdisciplinary graduate study in terahertz (THz) science and technology as it relates to imaging, data transfer, and networking systems and electronics. The fellowships, managed by Rensselaer's Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy, will allow students to study with eminent faculty members in physics, electrical engineering, biology, and biomedical engineering. Students will be exposed to advanced research facilities at Rensselaer such as the Center for Terahertz Research, where Rensselaer researchers have played a leading role in the effort to understand the science and the application of T-rays.

About Rensselaer
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is the nation's oldest technological university. The school offers degrees in engineering, the sciences, information technology, architecture, management, and the humanities and social sciences. Institute programs serve undergraduates, graduate students, and working professionals around the world. Rensselaer faculty are known for pre-eminence in research and teaching. The Institute is especially well known for its success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace so that new discoveries and inventions benefit human life, protect the environment, and strengthen economic development.


10 a.m.: Media tour of new Terahertz Center and Keck Lab
10:45 a.m.: Dedication of W. M. Keck Lab for Terahertz Science
11 a.m.: Conversation on Terahertz Research -- with Pioneers in the Field
1 - 4 p.m.: Technical Symposium on Terahertz Research - with National Experts

Lab Tour: Begins in viewing room - W. M. Keck Lab for Terahertz Science
George M. Low Center for Industrial Innovation - Rm. 9214
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
Lecture: George M. Low Center for Industrial Innovation - Rm. 4050

CONTACT: Theresa Bourgeois at 518-276-2840 or 518-892-6103, or

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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