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Out of the Lab: Terahertz imaging applications at Stonehenge

Aug 18, 2022

TeraView, the pioneer and leader in terahertz technology and solutions, is pleased to announce the publication of a paper at the Infrared and MMwave Conference and Terahertz (IRMMW-2022 -THz) in Delft (28th August – 2nd September 2022). The paper focusses on using TeraView’s TeraPulse Lx instrument to study rock carvings on the world famous Stonehenge monument. The paper is a joint collaboration with the University of Brighton, UK, and was produced in collaboration with English Heritage.

David Giovannacci, Historical Monuments Research Laboratory (LRMH), France, commented “In 2021 Gavin Leong, PhD student from the University of Brighton contacted me to have some inputs about the use of non-destructive tools on Cultural Heritage, and more particularly – of THz systems. Indeed, I am a conservation scientist focused on non-destructive tools working for the French Ministry of Culture for over 15 years now. Gavin’s question was: can we read the engraving under the lichen on the stone of Stonehenge? We immediately thought of Teraview, in Cambridge, UK, and their system – the TeraPulse Lx. 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. The scientific investigation using the TeraPulse Lx took place on 15th September 2021, and the results appear to be extremely promising”

Gavin Leong, PhD Student at Brighton University, UK, commented “Dr Phil Taday from TeraView was very kind to lend me his time and expertise in operating the TeraPulse Lx. Used in combination with the PolyScan head and gantry, I could begin to reveal the stone surfaces at Stonehenge that were densely covered by lichen. Our aim was to understand whether prehistoric art or stone shaping features lay hidden beneath the lichen. So with the rare opportunity afforded to us while Stonehenge was undergoing conservation work, Heather Sebire, English Heritage’s senior curator for Stonehenge allowed us to take the TeraPulse Lx into the stone circle for our imaging project. To my understanding, this is the first application of terahertz imaging on lichen”

Dr. Phil Taday, Head of Applications at TeraView, commented “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, 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”

Below is a short film made by TeraView detailing the project: