T-ray investigators win scholarships

Monday, 24 April 2000

TWO talented Adelaide University engineers are furthering their study into a new form of radiation after being awarded prestigious scholarships.

Sam Mickan and Brad Ferguson from the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering were the recipients of a Fulbright and Premier's postgraduate scholarship respectively.

Under the supervision of Dr Derek Abbott and in collaboration with Professor Jesper Munch from the Department of Physics, Mr Mickan and Mr Ferguson are investigating the relatively new field of T-ray radiation.

T-rays (as opposed to X-rays) are light which has a frequency in the TeraHertz range-hence the 'T'. One TeraHertz (THz) has a frequency of 1012 (one thousand billion hertz), a frequency range which places T-rays between microwaves and infrared radiation.

Although the worldwide study of T-rays is in its infancy, it has the potential for many applications not only to complement X-rays but, in certain circumstances, even replace them.

T-rays can accurately detect different substances with great sensitivity (in ways X-rays, MRI and infrared lasers cannot)-an ability which has strong significance for the medical, agricultural, food and wine industries. They also are not cancerous, unlike X-rays.

Adelaide University's T-ray research will focus on developing a low-cost and portable system which is suitable for scanning the surface of the human body, and then characterising various skin disorders (including cancer).

"I'll be the one trying to get the whole system working and making sure the right information is coming out, and Brad will be working on that information and trying to get some meaningful results out of it," Mr Mickan said.

As part of his Fulbright scholarship, Mr Mickan will go to an existing T-ray research centre in New York for six months, gaining first-hand learning of the latest developments in the field.

The Fulbright Exchange program was established in 1946 by US Senator J William Fulbright as a way of promoting educational and cultural exchange between America and more than 140 countries throughout the world, with recipients able to study, research and travel in America.

About 25 awards for postgraduate students, postdoctoral fellows, professionals and senior scholars are offered each year in Australia.

Thanks to his Premier's Scholarship, Mr Ferguson was able to take extended leave from his job with Vision Systems. The scholarship will see him receive more than $26,000 a year for three years.

"I wouldn't be able to do this without the scholarship," Mr Ferguson said. "I think that this will be a very worthwhile project which has the potential to make a significant impact in the health industry."


Contact Details

Professor Derek Abbott
Email: dabbott@eleceng.adelaide.edu.au
Website: http://www.eleceng.adelaide.edu.au/personal/dabbott/
School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering
The University of Adelaide
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Mobile: 0414 846 904

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Mr David Ellis
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Website: https://www.adelaide.edu.au/newsroom/
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
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