Photonics is a strongly growing sector of the economy and a major research area in Europe. In Thuringia and in particular in Jena, the scientific and industrial location is shaped by universities, research institutes and companies in the field of optics and photonics. While the number of young, well-trained female graduates is high, women who hold a leading position in academia and high-tech industry are still underrepresented.
The threat to society due to terror attacks has become a central issue in politics in the recent years. Increased security controls at airports have become a part of daily life there. As evidenced by the public discussions about the so-called "nude scanners", both the restrictions of ethical principles and the unknown health risks are too high a price to pay for many people in favor of more security.
One alternative to established systems is the passive THz security camera developed at Leibniz-IPHT. It detects weapons and explosives reliably, it is ethically uncritical and harmless to health.
An active "illumination" of test subjects is not required because the camera simply measures the body’s own THz radiation. Potentially dangerous objects that are worn on the body, such as weapons or explosive devices, cause a suspicious shadow on the captured radiation image. Unlike the scanning devices currently in use, the THz camera does not reveal anatomical details; thus, the images do not have to be artificially distorted. In addition, the lack of active radiation means avoidance of any potential danger to the health of the subject being scanned.
The heart of the camera is an ultrasensitive sensor designed by scientists at IPHT and manufactured in Leibniz-IPHT’s in-house cleanroom, as well as extremely low-noise and high-performance readout electronics.
The THz security camera is a prime example of consistent collaboration between the research focuses at Leibniz-IPHT. Long-term experience and knowledge gained in the areas of micro/nanotechnology, systems technology, and photonic detection have made the development of this system possible.