Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

A practical guide to terahertz imaging using thermal atomic vapour

Downes, Lucy A; Torralbo-Campo, Lara; Weatherill, Kevin J

A practical guide to terahertz imaging using thermal atomic vapour Thumbnail


Lara Torralbo-Campo


This tutorial aims to provide details on the underlying principles and methodologies of atom-based terahertz imaging techniques. Terahertz imaging is a growing field of research which can provide complementary information to techniques using other regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Unlike infrared, visible and ultraviolet radiation, terahertz passes through many everyday materials, such as plastics, cloth and card. Compared with images formed using lower frequencies, terahertz images have superior spatial resolution due to the shorter wavelength, while compared to x-rays and gamma rays, terahertz radiation is non-ionising and safe to use. The tutorial begins with the basic principles of terahertz to optical conversion in alkali atoms before discussing how to construct a model to predict the fluorescent spectra of the atoms, on which the imaging method depends. We discuss the practical aspects of constructing an imaging system, including the subsystem specifications. We then review the typical characteristics of the imaging system including spatial resolution, sensitivity and bandwidth. We conclude with a brief discussion of some potential applications.


Downes, L. A., Torralbo-Campo, L., & Weatherill, K. J. (2023). A practical guide to terahertz imaging using thermal atomic vapour. New Journal of Physics, 25, Article 035002.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 1, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 22, 2023
Publication Date 2023-03
Deposit Date Sep 27, 2022
Publicly Available Date Mar 24, 2023
Journal New Journal of Physics
Publisher IOP Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Article Number 035002
Publisher URL


Published Journal Article (41.7 Mb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations