T-rays could supersede X-rays

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The T-ray could replace the X-ray, with images that are sharper and safer, according to research published today.

Scientists in New York say the terahertz rays - electromagnetic waves with frequencies that are measured in trillions of seconds - could be used in everything from medicine to drug enforcement.

Physicist Xi Cheng Zhang and his colleagues at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, say the imaging system can produce pictures with a resolutionof up to 150 micrometres.

The team, whose findings were reported in New Scientist, is initially concentrating on its medical applications. The T-Rays could also be used to check silicon chip circuits, hunt for hidden drugs being loaded onto planes, look for defects in plastics and monitor food for freshness.