WILL sticky tape ever cease to amaze? Peeling it can generate terahertz radiation, raising the possibility of a cheaper alternative to lasers for medical imaging. Peeling sticky tape has already been shown to produce X-rays, so Joseph Horvat and Roger Lewis of the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia, tried to see if it could create lower-frequency terahertz radiation. "We were rather pleasantly surprised to obtain a clear signal in our first attempt," says Horvat. Strongly adhesive Scotch Magic 810 tape and weakly adhesive electrical tape both yielded strong terahertz signals, ranging from 0.1 to 10 terahertz, but only about a microwatt of power, too little for practical use (Optics Letters, vol 34, p 2195). Horvat says that refinements should increase the power by orders of magnitude.
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Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.