Vladimir Kozlov, president and co-founder of Microtech Instruments Inc., is building cutting-edge products out of technology that's almost 60 years old.
"Our sources of terahertz [waves] are based on vacuum diodes, also known as backward-wave oscillators, which is fairly old technology, having been developed in Russia after World War II," said Kozlov, who helped found Eugene, Ore.-based Microtech in 1992. "We engineered Russian BWOs into a complete terahertz spectrometer for the experimenter, and we've continually upgraded it for about 12 years now."
Kozlov claims today's solid-state researchers have a long way to go to catch up with Microtech's turnkey terahertz spectrometers, which offer high-power, high-resolution, spectroscopic imaging with broadband radiation from 30 GHz to 1.5 THz. Using BWOs as sources, the tabletop systems also include terahertz detectors with a 2-inch-square opto-acoustic sensor called a "golay cell." Both the BWOs and golay cells are manufactured exclusively in Russia.
"There are no commercial applications yet," Kozlov said, so the instruments go to researchers, chemists, physicists and materials scientists. "The best thing about our turnkey system is that it has a Windows-based interface, so you never have to touch anything but the keyboard," he said.
Microtech also supplies terahertz lenses, polarizers and mirrors for its spectrometers. Researchers merely insert the material under test into a holder between the terahertz source and the detector.