The Loh Down On Science

See-thru Chips

Hey 007, we've got your next gadget.

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Two electrical engineers at Caltech have developed a silicon microchip that could turn your cellphone into a scanner ... one that can look into most objects.

The chip generates high-frequency electromagnetic waves called terahertz waves. Terahertz waves can penetrate most packaging, providing high-resolution images of what’s inside. But terahertz technology had never been incorporated onto a silicon chip before … until the Caltech duo got a hold of it.

Their chips operate nearly 300 times faster than the average cellphone chip. Also? They emit a signal 1,000 times stronger than current terahertz technologies.

It’s that enhanced signal that can be pointed in a specific direction, allowing us to peer inside packages. But terahertz rays don't cause the damage of conventional x-rays. That's why the team says their detector may be able to find hidden weapons or to be useful in communications and healthcare.

As if being able to text and play Angry Birds on your phone isn't enough. Huzzah!

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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