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Input Devices Medicine United Kingdom Hardware Science

Nano-Scale Terahertz Antenna May Make Tricorders Real 185

MrSeb writes "Researchers from Imperial College London and A*STAR in Singapore have shown off a terahertz antenna that's just 100 nanometers across — about 30,000 times smaller than existing terahertz antennae — and two orders of magnitude stronger than other T-ray beam-forming techniques. T-rays are a lot like EHF (extremely high frequency), which is used by millimeter wave scanners in airports, medical imaging, and emerging wireless networking standards like WiGig — but stronger, faster, and more detailed. Where EHF radiation can see through your clothes, T-rays can penetrate a few millimeters of skin. Furthermore, because atoms and molecules have a unique terahertz-range signature, T-ray scanners can detect toxic substances, bombs, drugs — or even cancerous tumors under your skin. Most importantly, though, due to the nano scale of these antennae, it's possible to create huge antennae arrays on a single silicon chip, meaning hand-held T-ray scanners are now a possibility. In the not so distant future, every household might have a Star Trek-like tricorder capable of detecting cancer or other diseases."
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Nano-Scale Terahertz Antenna May Make Tricorders Real

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  • supply and demand (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @11:11AM (#38791573) Journal

    > In the not so distant future, every household might have a Star Trek-like tricorder capable of detecting cancer or other diseases."

    I find that unlikely. Much more likely: Even though the device itself costs $12 to make, it will be rigidly controlled and only available at high cost (either through insurance premiums or taxes) from your health provider.

    I take one of the most common blood pressure medications available. It's so common and the quantities are so high that manufacture is cheap, so the drug is cheap. I don't even bother with insurance -- I pay cash for the drug. (Approx $20 per month.) However, I can only get it by prescription. My doctor requires monthly visits, including a blood pressure check (fairly pointless as I do it myself 3-4 times a week) and a blood test requiring lab work. After insurance, the cost to me is approx $200 a month. They keep my prescriptions on a short leash, designed to run out right at my appointment date. (Sometimes if they're busy my prescription will run out before my appointment, so when I see them I've been off the drug for 3-4 days, unless I call the office and beg for an extension.) The doctor says this is to insure that I keep my appointment. When I point out I have never missed an appointment and don't deserve to be treated like an errant child, I'm informed that all patients are treated this way.

    To recap, a common, well tested drug that costs $20 a month (cash -- no insurance) that I've been taking for years costs me $220 a month total to take due to additional visits and tests required by the doctor's office before they'll allow me to continue taking the drug. Based on this business model, even if full ST:TNG-type scanners were available for less than the price of an iPad, I strongly suspect the actual devices will be rigidly controlled by law and only available through expensive doctor's visits.

    (In December I told my doctor to shove it. I'm now shopping around for a doctor who doesn't hold my meds hostage.)

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva