Friday, December 21, 2012

FutureWatch: New TSCM Tool on the Far Horizon

A secret agent is racing against time. He knows a bomb is nearby. He rounds a corner, spots a pile of suspicious boxes in the alleyway, and pulls out his cell phone. As he scans it over the packages, their contents appear onscreen. In the nick of time, his handy smartphone application reveals an explosive device, and the agent saves the day.

Already in use, but not yet cheap and portable.
Sound far-fetched? In fact it is a real possibility, thanks to tiny inexpensive silicon microchips developed by a pair of electrical engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). 

The chips generate and radiate high-frequency electromagnetic waves, called terahertz (THz) waves, that fall into a largely untapped region of the electromagnetic spectrum—between microwaves and far-infrared radiation—and that can penetrate a host of materials without the ionizing damage of X-rays.

When incorporated into handheld devices, the new microchips could enable a broad range of applications in fields ranging from homeland security (and TSCM) to wireless communications (new types of bugs) to health care, and even touchless gaming. In the future, the technology may lead to noninvasive cancer diagnosis, among other applications. (more)