Lisa M. Zurk

Date of Award

Spring 5-19-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Electrical and Computer Engineering


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Physical Description

1 online resource (xii, 121 pages)


Terahertz spectroscopy, Nondestructive testing, Electromagnetism




Lying between the microwave and far infrared (IR) regions, the "terahertz gap" is a relatively unexplored frequency band in the electromagnetic spectrum that exhibits a unique combination of properties from its neighbors. Like in IR, many materials have characteristic absorption spectra in the terahertz (THz) band, facilitating the spectroscopic "fingerprinting" of compounds such as drugs and explosives. In addition, non-polar dielectric materials such as clothing, paper, and plastic are transparent to THz, just as they are to microwaves and millimeter waves. These factors, combined with sub-millimeter wavelengths and non-ionizing energy levels, makes sensing in the THz band uniquely suited for many NDE applications.

In a typical nondestructive test, the objective is to detect a feature of interest within the object and provide an accurate estimate of some geometrical property of the feature. Notable examples include the thickness of a pharmaceutical tablet coating layer or the 3D location, size, and shape of a flaw or defect in an integrated circuit. While the material properties of the object under test are often tightly controlled and are generally known a priori, many objects of interest exhibit irregular surface topographies such as varying degrees of curvature over the extent of their surfaces. Common THz pulsed imaging (TPI) methods originally developed for objects with planar surfaces have been adapted for objects with curved surfaces through use of mechanical scanning procedures in which measurements are taken at normal incidence over the extent of the surface. While effective, these methods often require expensive robotic arm assemblies, the cost and complexity of which would likely be prohibitive should a large volume of tests be needed to be carried out on a production line.

This work presents a robust and efficient physics-based image processing approach based on the mature field of parabolic equation methods, common to undersea acoustics, seismology, and other areas of science and engineering. The method allows the generation of accurate 3D THz tomographic images of objects with irregular, non-planar surfaces using a simple planar scan geometry, thereby facilitating the integration of 3D THz imaging into mainstream NDE use.

Persistent Identifier