Berardi Sensale-Rodriguez, University of Utah assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, has received the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award. The five-year, $400,000 award will support research and development of terahertz (THz) devices for low-cost communications and imaging systems through Sensale-Rodriguez’s project “THz active metamaterials employing thin-film semiconductors.”

Sensale-Rodriguez explains the increasing use of wireless communications for data-dense media and services is overtaxing existing infrastructures. New THz-based solutions, he adds, could permit larger bandwidths than the radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR) wavelengths currently supporting wireless communication.

“The quest for ultra-high data rates is pushing the exploration of new technologies that can enable the use of currently unregulated higher spectral frequency bands such as the THz band,” Sensale-Rodriguez says.

Beyond personal wireless communications, THz technology could spur advancement of medical devices such as THz-enabled skin cancer detection imaging systems. To make these devices cost-effective, his program will focus on employing thin-film semiconductors.

In addition to material and fabrication costs, the NSF CAREER Award will support graduate students studying THz technology and working with nanomaterials. Sensale-Rodriguez and his graduate students will also participate in educational technology outreach activities.