Efficiency assessment of wood and cellulose-based optical elements for terahertz waves

Optical Materials Express 2023 Volume 13, Issue 1, Pages 92-103

Polarized THz time domain spectroscopy was used to study the anisotropic properties of wood-based materials for potential optical elements in the THz range, such as half-wave and quarter-wave plates. Wood samples of different species and sample thickness were studied experimentally showing high birefringence but rather high absorption. We elaborate on two approaches to optimize the optical properties for use as wave plates and assess them based on a figure of merit describing their efficiency as a function of birefringence and absorption. The first approach is to dry the wood samples, which significantly improves the efficiency of wave plates. The second approach is the use of artificially produced cellulose samples using 3D printing and freeze drying techniques, which also show birefringence caused by their similar macroscopic cellulose fibre structure. These materials have the potential as cost effective THz elements that are easy to tailor and produce for use at specific frequencies.