Pulsed terahertz systems are currently being deployed for online process control and quality control of multi-layered products for use in the building products and aerospace industries. While many laboratory applications of terahertz can allow waveforms to be acquired at rates of 1 – 40 Hz, online applications require measurement rates of in excess of 100Hz. The existing technologies of thickness measurement (nuclear, x-ray, or laser gauges) have rates between 100 and 1000 Hz. At these rates, the single waveform bandwidth must still remain at 2THz or above to allow thinner layers to be measured. In the applications where terahertz can provide unique capability (e.g. multi-layer thickness, delamination, density) long-term stability must be guaranteed within the tolerance required by the measurement. This can mean multi-day stability of less than a micron. The software that runs on these systems must be flexible enough to allow multiple product configurations, while maintaining the simplicity required by plant operators. The final requirement is to have systems that can withstand the environmental conditions of the measurement. This might mean qualification in explosive environments, or operation in hot, wet or dusty environments. All of these requirements can put restrictions on not only the voltage of electronic circuitry used, but also the wavelength and optical power used for the transmitter and receiver. The application of terahertz systems to online process control presents unique challenges that not only effect the physical design of the system, but can also effect the choices made on the terahertz technology itself.
Irl N. Duling and Jeffrey S. White, "Online terahertz thickness measurement in films and coatings," Proc. SPIE 10103, Terahertz, RF, Millimeter, and Submillimeter-Wave Technology and Applications X, 101030T (Presented at SPIE OPTO: January 31, 2017; Published: 24 February 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2256363.
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