Innovative Technology

2nd July 2020

SubTera’s inspection technology enables users to ‘see-through’ non-metallic protective layers in real time; helping engineers to quickly identify anomalies within the protective layer and underlying structure.

Underpinning SubTera’s capability is its core TeraHertz sensing technology; a technology that has already helped to solve big problems – from our environment to global security.

The Earth’s ozone is a protective layer within our atmosphere that absorbs harmful ultraviolet light from the sun. During 1985, significant depletion of the ozone layer over Antarctica was discovered—this became known as ‘the ozone hole’. Scientific research identified man-made chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as the major culprit in this ozone depletion. To stop the depletion, the international community regulated CFC production and consumption through the signing of the Montreal Protocol in 1987.

In 1991, NASA launched the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), in part to monitor the ozone layer. SubTera’s Chief Technology Officer, Dr Chris Mann, was part of the team at the UK’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory that developed a TeraHertz sensor for the UARS. TeraHertz energy passes through a range of materials easily, so the sensor developed for the UARS allowed scientists to ‘see-through’ our upper atmosphere and monitor the ozone layer.

Thankfully, due to continued efforts, the ozone layer appears to be on a path to recovery.

The ability to ‘see-through’ outer layers made TeraHertz sensing technology suitable for security imaging applications.  Body scanning technologies that detect items concealed under clothing rely on sensors operating in, or near to, the TeraHertz region of the electromagnetic spectrum. In addition to environmental monitoring, security, and corrosion detection, other new applications for TeraHertz sensing are emerging.

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