Department of Electronics and Nanoengineering

Millimetre Wave and THz Techniques

The Millimetre Wave and THz Techniques group aims to find the killer application for THz radiation. Our work interdisciplinary work spans the space from basic research to extensive application evaluation and leverages tight integration with intended end users. We are active in building end-to-end systems engineered specifically to application requirements that support new science/metrology enabled by Millimetre Wave and THz Techniques.

We are technology agnostic and utilize both RF, multiplier-based components and optical, down conversion-based methods in equal measure. Further, we have extensive experience in quasioptic design, simulation, and fabrication that allow us to address standoff measurement challenges not accessible to most groups. These capabilities are supported by active quasioptical research with input provided by our collaborators in the radio science and antennas communities.

Our basic science work includes joint projects on submillimeter wave components and measurements under the guise of Millilab; a joint institute between VTT and Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering with ongoing funding from the European Space Agency (ESA). Current projects include the development of room temperature, on-wafer characterization in the 325 GHz top 500 GHz band. This is concurrent with design and characterization of cryogenic, quasioptical based measurement techniques in the 325 GHz top 500 GHz band.

One of our major application focuses is medical imaging where we build systems that produce sensitive and specific spatiotemporal maps of tissue water content. These maps are leveraged for early detection and ongoing monitoring of diseases and pathologies. The major breakthroughs achieved on these fronts were made possible by our close collaboration with industry and clinical partners. Medical applications under research include corneal water content measurement, burn severity assessment, and dermal graft rejection.

Early detection of endothelial dystrophies in the cornea and corneal grafts

Research areas

Early detection of endothelial dystrophies in the cornea and corneal grafts

The cornea is the outermost optic of your eye is responsible for s the majority of the eye’s focusing power. The cornea lies on the surface of water volume called the aqueous humor. The corneal layers adjacent to the aqueous humor (endothelium) are responsible for maintaining the water volume of the cornea by actively pumping water across the barriers between the endothelium and aqueous humor. Many diseases, such as endothelial dystrophies, perturb the active pumping mechanisms and the cornea hyperhydrates due to diffusion. Late detection of cornea hyperhydration almost always leads to corneal graft surgery where the diseased endothelium is replaced with a donor endothelium. Donor endothelia can be rejected by the body and late detection requires the removal and the donor tissue with additional donor tissue. Currently, no methods to directly measure corneal water content exits thus early detection of endothelial dystrophies and corneal graft rejection are not possible. The geometry and ordered nature of cornea enable THz frequency thin film metrology (i.e. frequency domain ellipsometry) to extract corneal thickness and corneal water content simultaneously thus providing the first ever direct measurement of disease dependent corneal hydration.

Burn Severity assessment
Burn Severity assessment

Research area

Burn Severity assessment

Skin burns severity is generally divided into three, increasing severities: 1st, 2nd, and 3rddegree. 3rd degree burns often require surgical excision to remove dead tissue. It is often difficult to delineate 2nddegree from 3rddegree severities immediately following burn injury due to the buildup and redistribution of significant tissue edema. This further delays appropriate treatment and leads to poor outcomes. THz imaging generates sensitive a specific maps of injury edema and these maps provide information that enables accurate assessment of burn severity.

Surgical flap viability
Surgical flap viability

Surgical flap viability

Patients often require the transplantation of donor skin from a healthy area of the body to close wounds or surgical excisions. These sections of tissue are called “flaps” and they can become unviable if the blood supply is not successfully reestablished. Flap rejection significantly complicates wound healing and leads to substantial loss of function and is a detriment to aesthetics. Flap failure is hard to predict and most optical techniques are confounded by the presence of massive tissue edema. THz imaging generates sensitive a specific maps of injury edema and these maps provide information that enables early and accurate detection of flap failure.

Quasi-optical research
Quasi-optical research

Quasi-optical research

Traditional THz quasi-optical techniques are often applied to the design of systems whose target of interest is located a significant distance from the THz transceiver (e.g. radio astronomy, personnel screening). Further, these systems typically employ apertures that are on the order of 102 to 103 wavelengths in diameter. This orientation often produces broad depths of focus and some tolerable sensitivity to misalignment. In contrast, our medical imaging is more similar to microscopy where the tissue of interest is very close to the THz transceiver and practical constraints limit apertures to < 102 free space wavelengths. This setup results in very sharp depths of focus and extremely high sensitivity to misalignment. Since patients are always moving around, the performance optical system under misalignment is often more important than during alignment. Thus, our quasioptical system design and evaluation efforts are directed towards the understudied problem of tracking beam under when nothing is lying where it should.

System phenomenology research
System phenomenology research

System phenomenology research

We have pioneered the use of mixed technology, THz imaging systems. Our most commonly used architecture is a photoconductive switch source and a Schottky diode detector. The goal of this system is incoherent radiation detection (diode) with a low coherence source (switch) where the coherence effects, typical of swept source or time domain detection, are suppressed. This combination of components produces high resolution, low clutter images but creates interesting operational situations that are difficult to characterize. For example (1) The peak electric field coupled to the detector is many orders of magnitude beyond the breakdown voltage of the Schottky diode thus the component operates in the large signal, series resistance regime. (2) The self-complementary, spiral antenna generates a circularly polarized beam with ~ 200% bandwidth while the diode is mounted in a rectangular waveguide with a probe designed to couple to the TE10 mode. (3) The large signal operation and complex coupling combine to produce a signal whose spectral mapping is nearly intractable.

THz correlational imaging with T2 weighted MRI
THz correlational imaging with T2 weighted MRI

THz correlational imaging with T2 weighted MRI

Sensitivity and specificity to water in tissue has never been characterized. These parameters require a gold standard, in situ method of tissue water content of which there is only one: magnetic resonance imaging. Significant research is still needed to correlate our THz imaging data with MRI measurements. This task requires high magnetic fields and resolution of surface features; a combination that is rarely employed clinically. Basic research is ongoing to refine these correlative experiments.

Group members

Juha Ala-Laurinaho

Staff Scientist
T411 Dept. Electronics and Nanoeng

Latest publications

Ghost imaging at submillimeter waves: correlation and machine learning methods

Tamminen Aleksi, Samu Ville Pälli, Juha Ala-Laurinaho, Sazan Rexhepi, Zachary Taylor 2023 Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering

Fivefold Peak Power Boost in HBT-driven GaAs Collapsing-Field-Domain-Based Sub-THz Source

Maxim Masyukov, Sergey Vainshtein, Roman Grigorev, Zachary Taylor 2023 IEEE Electron Device Letters

Imaging experiments with a 340-GHz FMCW radar and frequency-diverse holograms

Samu Ville Pälli, Aleksi Tamminen, Paavo Hiltunen, Sazan Rexhepi, Marlene Bonmann, Tomas Bryllert, Duncan A. Robertson, Juha Ala-Laurinaho, Jan Stake, Zachary Taylor 2023 Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering

Design of a ring-focus dual reflector objective for standoff sensing of spherical targets in the 220 - 330 GHz band

M. Baggio, A. Tamminen, J. Ala-Laurinaho, V. P. Wallace, Z. D. Taylor 2022 IRMMW-THz 2022 - 47th International Conference on Infrared, Millimeter and Terahertz Waves

Design of double-reflector objective for corneal sensing in the 220-330 GHz band

Mariangela Baggio, Aleksi Tamminen, Juha Ala-Laurinaho, Zachary Taylor 2022 2022 16th European Conference on Antennas and Propagation, EuCAP 2022

Submillimeter-wave cornea phantom sensing over an extended depth of field with an axicon-generated Bessel beam

Mariangela Baggio, Aleksi Tamminen, Joel Lamberg, Roman Grigorev, Samu Ville Palli, Juha Ala-Laurinaho, Irina Nefedova, Jean Louis Bourges, Sophie X. Deng, Elliott R. Brown, Vincent P. Wallace, Zachary D. Taylor 2022 IEEE Transactions on Terahertz Science and Technology

650 GHz imaging as alignment verification for millimeter wave corneal reflectometry

Yong Hu, Mariangela Baggio, Shahab Dabironezare, Aleksi Tamminen, Brandon Toy, Juha Ala-Laurinaho, Elliot Brown, Nuria Llombart, Sophie Deng, Vincent Wallace, Zachary Taylor 2022 IEEE Transactions on Terahertz Science and Technology

The Effect of Surface Passivation for Sub-THz Silicon Gradient Refractive Index Lens

Antti Lamminen, Aleksi Tamminen, Jaakko Saarilahti, Vladimir Ermolov, Pekka Pursula 2022 2021 51st European Microwave Conference, EuMC 2021

A calibration-free method to assess the quality of standards for THz on-wafer measurements

Maxim Masyukov, Irina Nefedova, Aleksi Tamminen, Kimmo Silvonen, Juan Cabello-Sanchez, Mikko Varonen, Mikko Kantanen, Helena Rodilla, Jan Stake, Zachary Taylor 2022

Contactless Terahertz Sensing of Ultrafast Switching in Marx Generator Based on Avalanche Transistors

Maxim Masyukov, Sergey Vainshtein, Juha Mallat, Zachary Taylor 2022 IEEE Electron Device Letters
More information on our research in the Aalto research portal.
Research portal

Professor Zachary Taylor
Email: zachary.taylor at
Tel.: +358 50 595 5617

Postal address:
Department of Electronics and Nanoengineering
Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering
P.O. Box 15500, 00076 Aalto, Finland

Visiting address:
Maarintie 8, 02150 Espoo

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