Medical technology and Environmental Monitoring

PIs: Prof. Dr. Karsten Seidl (Fraunhofer IMS), Prof. Dr. Daniel Erni (Universität Duisburg-Essen)

Within the framework of terahertz.NRW, THz-based concepts for the interdisciplinary cross-sectional topic of medical technology will be developed and demonstrated in joint visionary application scenarios (use cases). To this end, various new players in medicine and medical technology are connected with THz experts within the network.


THz-supported medical technology represents an extension of ongoing collaborative research, e.g. from SFB/TRR 196 MARIE and BMBF 6GEM. Overall, it is a highly relevant research program for terahertz.NRW with regard to the development of innovative devices for theranostics, point-of-care medicine and novel systems for THz-supported hospital technology. Due to the medical focus of the participating clinical partners and university clinics, the focus is primarily on areas of application in neurorehabilitation, tissue diagnostics and dermatology. The ability of THz technology to determine distances with very high resolution in the far field, even through clothing, offers the possibility of non-contact vital diagnostics. Another visionary application of THz technology in medicine is mobile histopathology based on high-resolution THz imaging for the diagnosis of tumor tissue and neoplasms with regard to rapid intraoperative measurement of tumor margins. Modern functional THz approaches are currently attempting to go beyond the dominant correlation of tissue characteristics to water content in order to also record morphological and physical properties. A “THz endoscope” that works reflectometrically and/or spectroscopically is currently still a major technical challenge. The combination of THz sensor technology with microsystem manufacturing processes can be used to evaluate approaches such as the detection of pathogens, the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease and the detection of neurotransmitters.


In the same way as the intended THz applications in medical technology, THz-based environmental monitoring in terahertz.NRW is an essential, interdisciplinary extension of ongoing collaborative research, e.g. from SFB/TRR 196 MARIE and BMBF 6GEM. In the field of recycling (e.g. for sorting out plastics), Fraunhofer FHR already has mature system concepts [NUE/2017], [NUE/2020] for THz radar imaging at 80 GHz and 240 GHz, which are also used for non-contact quality testing of food [BEC/2020]. Non-contact THz plant monitoring currently focuses primarily on the inspection of various crops [HGE/2021] for properties that correlate with water content [BLI/2020] [CAS/2021]. terahertz.NRW, on the other hand, aims to realize mobile and functional multispectral, imaging THz plant monitoring (including in combination with AI-based fusion with optical image data). In addition to morphology, surface texture and internal composition, this also captures the dynamics of nutrient and pollutant transport in the xylem as well as sugars and possibly also signaling substances in the phloem of well-studied model plants, such as Haller’s foam cress (A. halleri), thale cress (A. thaliana) and poplar (Populus sp.). A THz near-field scanner is envisaged for this purpose (Rennings, Krämer), which is based on passive dielectric samples arranged azimuthally around the shoot axis, so that in the medium term there will also be access to both field applications and genetic mechanistic research.


Anmol Sharma

Office Manager terahertz.NRW

Phone: +49 151 11607040


terahertz.NRW Transfer Office

Sascha Weyers, Fraunhofer IMS