Jing Shi is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UC Riverside. Credit: I. Pittalwala, UC Riverside.

A team of physicists has discovered a method in detecting high electromagnetic waves, noting being difficult to detect.

Apparently, Terahertz is a unit of electromagnetic wave frequency, in which it equates to one gigahertz equals 1 billion hertz; 1 terahertz equals 1,000 gigahertz. The general rule to this is that the higher the frequency (in this case, the highest is terahertz) the faster the transmission of information. For example, cell phones actually operate at a few gigahertz. In this context, the discovery could be a breakthrough in electronics, in which it could help miniaturize the detection equipment on microchips and enhance sensitivity.

Shi, who directs Department of Energy-funded Energy Frontier Research Center Spins and Heat in Nanoscale Electronic Systems, or SHINES, at UC Riverside, explained subterahertz and terahertz radiation are a challenge to detect. Current communication technology uses gigahertz microwaves.

“The generation of terahertz microwaves is not difficult, but their detection is. Our work has now provided a new pathway for terahertz detection on a chip,” Shi divulged.

In order to generate such magnetic resonance, researchers worked with 0.24 terahertz of radiation. This closely matched the precession frequency of electrons in chromia. The magnetic resonance that followed resulted in the generation of a spin current that the researchers converted into a DC voltage.

“This is the first successful generation and detection of pure  currents in antiferromagnetic materials, which is a hot topic in spintronics,” Shi said. “Antiferromagnetic spintronics is a major focus of SHINES.”