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Even the scientists themselves are calling their discovery “spectacular”. This is no doubt partly due to the fact that only a commercially available 3D printer and plastic is needed in order to use them – and the right knowhow. The principle is similar to that of a glass optical lens with which a beam of light can be focused. The terahertz beams are shaped using plastic apertures that have first been precisely adjusted to fit the intended purpose using a special calculation method. The apertures are produced with a 3D printer which the researchers say does not even need a particularly high resolution: “It’s enough for the precision of the structure to be significantly better than the wavelength of the beam used”, says Prof. Andrei Pimenov , head of the Institute of Solid State Physics at TU Vienna. Due to the ease of use, he expects terahertz technology to gain further impetus in numerous fields of application.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics (ITWM) is another of those demonstrating the potential benefits to industry. They say that the technology can reliably measure thin layers of ink and paint on metal and non-metal substrates. This makes it of interest to the automotive and aircraft construction industries, amongst others. Its benefit over existing measurement processes is that it does not require either direct contact or optically transparent layers. Work is currently in progress on a self-programming paint cell as part of a model project .