We are approaching what leading scientists and engineers are dubbing the "Tera-Era". Tera means 1012, or 1,000,000,000,000. In this Tera-Era, state-of-the-art computers will perform operations at rates of 1012 per second, or teraflops. Digital communications systems will be able to transmit bits of data over a single glass fiber at rates of 1012 per second. At this rate, during the time it takes you to read this sentence this entire report could be transmitted to every person in the state of Oklahoma ten times over. Electronic devices will be able to respond on time scales of 10-12 seconds. Over 10-12 seconds the fastest jet fighter plane would travel about the width of eight single atoms. This Tera-Era will be one of systems operating at incredible speeds capable of processing incredible amounts of information.
In the Ultrafast Terahertz-Optoelectronic Laboratory we are world technology leaders in developing systems working at terahertz frequencies which fall on the boundary between radio waves (electronics) and light (optics). The terahertz technologies being developed have applications ranging from environmental sensing to development of high speed computers. Our terahertz systems are capable of quantitative analysis of many gas species simultaneously and provide a unique way of monitoring gas compositions in industrial processes. Terahertz frequencies are used in our laboratory for radar signature analysis- we are attempting to shrink the size of radar test beds from building to table size with correspondingly scaled down cost. As computer technology reaches towards the Tera-Era many of the current methods of sending data from place to place within the computer break down. The technology being developed at our laboratories offers unique ways not only to diagnose such problems but radically new methods of transmitting such information.
To deal with the extremely rapid oscillations of the electric field in this frequency region, we borrow from both the electronics and optics technologies by fabricating microscopic antennas and driving them with short optical pulses. We use cutting edge optical techniques involving laser pulses that are so short light only has time to travel the width of a human hair before they are done and combine them with electronic fabrication methods capable of writing the entire alphabet in a space the width of a human hair. These so called "ultrafast" optical techniques are a driving force behind many of the high speed communication schemes of the future. The ability to fabricate electronic circuits on microscopic scales are driving the computer revolution.
Our research shrinks radio frequency electronics down to microscopic scales, analogous to the way computer manufacturers shrink digital circuits down to a scale on which millions of transistors can fit in an area the size of a postage stamp. The Ultrafast Terahertz-Optoelectronic Laboratories provide the capability for making devices on a microscopic scale, testing the devices, and incorporating them in the technologies which will drive the economic engines of the 21st century.
The Ultrafast Terahertz-Optoelectronic Laboratories is a unique Oklahoma resource- combining the technology of microscopic fabrication with existing laser expertise to solve real, immediate, and practical problems facing the technical community. The capabilities developed in our laboratory are enabling- we actively encourage qualified researchers to collaborate on projects of mutual interest. The Ultrafast Terahertz-Optoelectronic Laboratory also takes pride in training students to face the problems of the next century. The knowledge and practical, hands-on experience students will gain in optics and microscopic fabrication is the basis for the technologies that will dominate the next thirty years.