Sniffer WSN Gets Boost From Microchip Creation

Pair of engineers at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has created a Tiny; inexpensive silicon microchips that generate and radiate high-frequency electromagnetic waves. This imager can penetrate a host of materials without the ionizing damaging effect of x-rays. The chips could be used in applications ranging from homeland security to wireless sensor network communications and even in gaming industry. The technology is a boost to Sniffer wireless sensor networks and could even lead to noninvasive cancer diagnosis according to WSN experts working on Sniffer Wireless Sensor Network and how to secure the Ports at the University of Aberdeen.

The Tiny Terahertz Imager Chip created could be incorporated into handheld devices, such as Smartphone’s, to sniff out explosives in solid objects.

According to Ali Hajimiri, the Thomas G. Myers professor of electrical engineering at Caltech, he said that  “Using the same low-cost, integrated-circuit technology that’s used to make the microchips found in our cell phones and notepads today, we have made a silicon chip that can operate at nearly 300 times their speed, and these chips will enable a new generation of extremely versatile sensors.”

Terahertz imaging and scanning is not a new technology; it can render high-resolution image details and detect the chemical fingerprints of pharmaceutical drugs, biological weapons or illegal drugs and explosives. However, most existing systems involve bulky and expensive laser setups that sometimes require exceptionally low temperatures.

Caltech electrical engineers were assisted by IBM with the standard use of CMOS technology to design silicon chips that could operate at terahertz frequencies, while fitting on a fingertip. They needed the assistance because translating the CMOS technology into a workable terahertz chip was no easy feat because silicon chips are not designed to operate at such frequencies. In fact, every transistor has a frequency, known as the cutoff, above which it fails to amplify a signal — and no standard transistors can amplify terahertz signals. 

The chips boast signals more than 1000 times stronger than existing approaches and can be dynamically programmed to point in a specific direction.
“We are not just talking about a potential. We have actually demonstrated that this works,” Hajimiri said. “The first time we saw the actual images, it took our breath away.” The researchers used the scanner to reveal a razor blade hidden within a piece of plastic and to determine the fat content of chicken tissue.


Professor Ali Hajimiri and postdoctoral scholar Kaushik Sengupta tried working the cut-off frequency hurdle by harnessing the collective strength of many transistors operating in unison which if operated at the right times and at the right frequencies, the combined power of multiple elements can boost the strength of the collective signal.