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AUGUST 2023 I SMT007 MAGAZINE 51 ber two, whereas with mower number one, he could only do about $70,000 per year." "What if he only had $70,000 of business in a year?" Patty asked. "Well, he would finish early and have more time to do other things," Paul said. "So, sum it up?" Patty asked. "I just don't see how 'cost of ownership' is a useful concept," Paul said. "I think something more like 'profitability potential' is more help- ful. I plan to use this concept in my project to evaluate the component placement machines Benson Electronics wants to purchase." Will Paul's use of profitability potential find the best component placement machines? How will Hal Lindsay react to Paul's analysis? Stay tuned to find out. SMT007 Dr. Ronald C. Lasky is an instructional professor of engi- neering for the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, and senior technologist at Indium Corporation. To read past columns, click here. The manipulation of light waves at frequencies beyond human vision has enabled such technolo- gies as cell phones and CT scans. Rice University researchers have a plan for leveraging a previously unused portion of the spectrum. "There is a notable gap in mid- and far-infrared light, roughly the frequencies of 5-15 terahertz and wavelengths ranging from 20-60 micrometers, for which there are no good commercial products com- pared with higher optical frequencies and lower radio frequencies," said Rui Xu, a third-year doctoral student at Rice and lead author on an article pub- lished in Advanced Materials. "Optical technologies in this frequency region— sometimes called 'the new terahertz gap' because it is far less accessible than the rest of the 0.3-30 terahertz 'gap'—could be very useful for study- ing and developing quantum materi- als for quantum electronics closer to room temperature, as well as sensing functional groups in biomolecules for medical diagnosis," Zhu said. The challenge faced by researchers has been identifying proper materials to carry and process light in the "new terahertz gap." Such light strongly interacts with the atomic structures of most materials and is quickly absorbed by them. Zhu's group has turned the strong interaction to its advantage with strontium titanate, an oxide of strontium and titanium. "Its atoms couple with terahertz light so strongly that they form new particles called phonon-polari- tons, which are confined to the surface of the mate- rial and are not lost inside of it," Xu said. Unlike other materials that support phonon- polaritons in higher frequencies and usually in a narrow range, strontium titanate works for the entire 5-15 terahertz gap because of a property called quantum paraelectricity. Its atoms exhibit large quantum fluctuations and vibrate randomly, thus capturing light effectively without being self-trapped by the captured light, even at zero degrees Kelvin. (Source: Rice University) Discovery May Lead to Terahertz Technology for Quantum Sensing

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