TeraHertz Signal Generator


This novel transducer is capable of generating electromagnetic signals in the terahertz region. The unique feature of this invention is the use of a field emitter array as a source of the electron beam together with a resonant cavity to achieve output radiation of 300 GHz to 10 THz. This technology has potential applications in the fields of medical imaging and security scanning.


The transducer mainly consists of a field emitter array and a hollow cavity with apertures. As a voltage is applied to the field emitter array, a beam of electrons is produced. This electron beam enters the cavity through aligned apertures and resonates until a desired frequency range is reached somewhere between 300GHz to 10 THz.

Compared to conventional generators for the lower end of the THz gap, this technology is much more cost effective and is also suitable for mass production. The design of the transducer allows an array of generators to be produced on a single wafer, which can then be integrated into an imaging device with other components such as an array detector system. The spacing between the apertures can be selected to provide power combination effects.

There are specific benefits to certain applications due to the capabilities provided. For instance the capability to profile a spatially distributed electron beam to match the resonant cavity characteristics is advantageous in applications for medical imaging.

The field emitter array can achieve a narrow bandwidth of electron energy, of the order 0.2eV. This produces an energy spread five times smaller than conventional thermionic emitters.

Innovations and advantages of the offer

One of the primary advantages of this technology is its flexibility to be installed within a large array of devices as an underpinning technology. Unlike many similar components the potential for mass production is there.

Other advantages are:

  • Narrow bandwidth of electron energy
  • Customisable frequency range
  • Arrays can be produced on a single wafer


The THz signal generator was originally developed within STFC to underpin and enable a number of THZ instruments that have been produced for RAL Space.

The technology can be used in any application where a THz signal in the range of 300GHz to 10THz is required.

There are specific areas of interest that include:

  • Medical imaging
  • Security scanning
  • Non-destructive testing

Description of Space Heritage

The THz signal generator was developed within STFC for use in the many THz cameras that have been produced by RAL Space. The inventors were also part of the ESA StarTiger team that developed a miniaturised sub-mm camera.

Comments on the technology by the broker

This technology is interesting because it can be integrated at a component level into almost any THz application.

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Could this technology benefit your business? Please contact Matthew Edwards STFC Innovations (UK)
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