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Communicating with heat
4th May 2017 @ 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
The ancient Greeks were the first to study the reflection and refraction properties of visible light. It then took thousands of years before the discovery of ‘light’ outside of our visible spectrum, with William Herschel discovering “calorific rays” (infrared radiation) and Johann Ritter discovering “chemical rays” (ultraviolet radiation). Scientific giants like Michael Faraday, André-Marie Ampère and James Clerk Maxwell went on to expand our understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Today’s heavily overcrowded radio frequency spectrum has seen extensive commercial exploitation by the multi-trillion dollar telecommunications industry. However, even next generation 5G mobile communications is reaching practical frequency limits imposed by the high costs associated with operation at such short wavelengths. As a result, research by scientists and engineers is being carried out to find low cost solutions at terahertz frequencies and within the ‘Over the THz Horizon’ thermal infrared.
Unsurprisingly, the thermal infrared finds technological applications in thermography, with ubiquitous examples that include thermometers, motion sensors, thermal cameras and even therapeutic treatments. Professor Stepan Lucyszyn believes this part of the spectrum is still largely overlooked. In his inaugural lecture he will briefly retrace the history of our understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum and the discovery of engineering solutions that could lead to new paths for the commercial exploitation of the thermal infrared, with applications ranging from low-cost secure communications to non-destructive testing.