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Efficient free-space to chip coupling of ultrafast sub-ps THz pulse for biomolecule fingerprint sensing

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posted on 2023-01-12, 16:14 authored by Yanbing Qiu, Kun Meng, Wanling Wang, Jing Chen, John Cunningham, Ian Robertson, Binbin Hong, Guo Ping Wang
Ultrafast sub-ps THz pulse conveys rich distinctive spectral fingerprints related to the vibrational or rotational modes of biomolecules and can be used to resolve the time-dependent dynamics of the motions. Thus, an efficient platform for enhancing the THz light-matter interaction is strongly demanded. Waveguides, owing to their tightly spatial confinement of the electromagnetic fields and the longer interaction distance, are promising platforms. However, the efficient feeding of the sub-ps THz pulse to the waveguides remains challenging due to the ultra-wide bandwidth property of the ultrafast signal. We propose a sensing chip comprised of a pair of back-to-back Vivaldi antennas and a 90{\deg} bent slotline waveguide to overcome the challenge. The effective operating bandwidth of the sensing chip ranges from 0.2 to 1.15 THz, with the free-space to chip coupling efficiency up to 50%. Over the entire band, the THz signal is 42.44 dB above the noise level with a peak of 73.40 dB. To take advantages of the efficient sensing chip, we have measured the characteristic fingerprint of {\alpha}-lactose monohydrate, and a sharp absorption dip at near 0.53 THz has been successfully observed demonstrating the accuracy of the proposed solution. The proposed sensing chip has the advantages of efficient in-plane coupling, ultra-wide bandwidth, easy integration and fabrication, large-scale manufacturing capability, and cost-effective, and can be a strong candidate for THz light-matter interaction platform.

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