University of Glasgow improves terahertz laser laboratory safety

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The University of Glasgow has taken steps to improve safety for researchers in its terahertz infrared laser laboratory by using thermal imaging.

The terahertz region of the electromagnetic spectrum is one of the least explored but shows great potential for application in fields of science, security and medicine. Because the terahertz laser is a Class IV device, university personnel wear safety goggles to protect their eyes but the infrared beam also has the potential to cause serious damage to clothing or skin. To ensure the terahertz infrared laser beam is on-target a variety of infrared lenses and mirrors are used.

Yong Ma, a research assistant at the University’s school of engineering microsystem technology group, said: ‘I always scan the entire area [of the laboratory] with our Flir i7 thermal imaging camera to detect any beams that are projected in the wrong direction.’

Historically the laboratory used thermal paper to detect beam projection. This discolours when it becomes warm but it is a method that is far from being efficient. The Flir i7 is a top-of-the-range model in the Flir entry-level series of thermal imaging cameras. The latest generation features a 140 x 140 pixel array, providing an increased image quality of 36 per cent against its forerunner, and also a wider field of view. It is also much more robust and able to withstand a 2m drop test onto a hard surface without any detrimental effect.

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