Graphene amplifier unlocks hidden frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum

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Light in the THz frequencies hits the ‘sandwich’ and is reflected with additional energy. Credit: Loughborough University

Researchers have created a unique device which will unlock the elusive terahertz wavelengths and make revolutionary new technologies possible.

Terahertz waves (THz) sit between microwaves and infrared in the light frequency spectrum, but due to their low energy, scientists have been unable to harness their potential. The conundrum is known in scientific circles as the “terahertz gap.”

Being able to detect and amplify THz waves (T-rays) would open up a new era of medical, communications, satellite, cosmological and other technologies. One major application would be as a safe, non-destructive alternative to X-rays. However, until now, the wavelengths, which range between 3mm and 30μm, have proved impossible to use due to relatively weak signals from all existing sources.

A team of physicists has created a new type of optical transistor—a working THz amplifier—using graphene and a high-temperature superconductor. The physics behind the simple amplifier relies on the properties of graphene, which is transparent and is not sensitive to light and whose electrons have no mass. It is made up of two layers of graphene and a superconductor that trap the graphene massless electrons between them like a sandwich.

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The Weaponization of the electromagnetic spectrum

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The information age is evolving the very nature of warfare. Today, each nation increasingly depends on closely integrated, high-speed electronic systems across cyberspace, geospace, and space (CGS). But, it’s a cause of great concern if an enemy can easily use a weapon like a small, inexpensive EMP device. An EMP weapon can deny any individual or entity across a nation the ability to use electromagnetic waves for their digital infrastructure and digital connectivity, e.g. radio, infrared, and radar. Moreover, a nuclear blast can also trigger an EMP effect, as can a solar storm. Individually and collectively, this emerging reality understandably changes the nature of warfare, the focus of the war, and the target of warfare, shaking up the very foundation of security.

Electronic warfare is on our doorstep, and no nation seems to be fully prepared. Since electronic warfare appears to already be on our doorstep, in order to meet the complex EMP warfare challenges that are seriously threatening the very progress and advances nations have made in CGS, it is essential to evaluate how prepared each nation is today in their defensive as well as offensive capabilities. How are nations addressing the security challenges to their CGS?

The weaponization of the electromagnetic spectrum is becoming a reality. Acknowledging this emerging reality, Risk Group initiated a much-needed discussion on Electromagnetic Warfare with Colonel Avraham Cohen, Head of National Security Cyber Research Group and the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Sphere-SOC based in Israel on Risk Roundup.

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