Bridging the 'terahertz gap'
Author: Office of Marketing & Communications
Posted: May 1, 2006
Professor Lisa M. Zurk has received a five-year, $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s prestigious CAREER Award program for her proposal, “Electromagnetic Scattering and Propagation in Random Media at Terahertz (THz) Frequencies.”

Until recently, scientists have lacked the means to effectively generate and detect energy at “the terahertz gap,” frequencies that fall between microwaves and infrared waves (300GHz–30THz) on the electromagnetic spectrum. Now, researchers like Zurk have begun to explore the unique properties of terahertz radiation, which could be used to scan for explosives by detecting signature “fingerprints” of deadly materials, and for noninvasive detection of skin cancer with non-ionizing (“safe”) radiation.

An assistant professor in the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Zurk will use the grant funding to explore the application of THz spectroscopy to detection of explosives and to biomedical imaging. Since arriving at Portland State in January 2005, Zurk has secured over $1.5 million in research funding.