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29 August, 2022 - 22:17 By Tony Quested

Monumental success as TeraView’s imaging technology monitors Stonehenge

Work by Cambridge company TeraView to help unravel the mysteries of Stonehenge, the ancient burial ground in Wiltshire, is being showcased at a European summit. A paper on its research is being featured at the Infrared and MMwave Conference on Terahertz in Delft, Holland.
It focuses on using TeraView’s TeraPulse Lx instrument to study rock carvings on the world famous monument. The paper is a joint collaboration with the University of Brighton and was produced in collaboration with English Heritage. 

TeraView, a leader in terahertz technology and solutions, is a long-established spin-out from the Toshiba Corporation and Cambridge University.

Headquartered in Cambridge, the company provides sales and customer support throughout the Far East, North America and Europe either directly or through a network of distributors.

The journey began last year when David Giovannacci from the Historical Monuments Research Laboratory (LRMH) in France, was contacted by Gavin Leong – a PhD student from the University of Brighton – for input about the use of non-destructive tools on cultural heritage and more particularly of THz systems.

A conservation scientist focused on non-destructive tools working for the French Ministry of Culture for over 15 years, David was intrigued by Gavin’s question: ‘Can we read the engraving under the lichen on the stone of Stonehenge?’

Giovannacci says: “We immediately thought of Teraview in Cambridge and its TeraPulse Lx system. This system has the advantages of being fully portable, easy to use and allowing mapping of the object all the way from the surface to the inner layer.”

Results from the scientific investigation using the TeraPulse Lx “appear to be extremely promising,” he adds. It is thought to be the first application of terahertz imaging on lichen.

Dr Phil Taday, head of applications at TeraView, said: “The application of taking a terahertz system to Stonehenge is quite challenging; it’s something we thought we wouldn’t have been able to do 20 years ago because you wouldn’t have been able to take such an instrument outside of the laboratory. 

“What we have managed to do with Gavin is to take our TeraPulse Lx system to Stonehenge and use it to acquire depth information in-the-field.”

Terahertz light lies between infra-red and microwaves so has unique properties which enables it to pass through objects and to transmit images and compositional (spectroscopic) information that is ordinarily hidden. 

Terahertz is non-destructive, safe and fast, making it the ideal inspection and imaging modality for many applications across a range of industries.. 

TeraView has demonstrated the potential of terahertz technology in a number of applications including the detection of faults and quality issues in semiconductors, monitoring the quality of pharmaceutical drugs and high value coatings used in automotive, aerospace and other industries.

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