The submillimeter wave or terahertz (THz) band (1 mm–100 μm) is one of the last unexplored frontiers in the electromagnetic spectrum. A major stumbling block hampering instrument deployment in this frequency regime is the lack of a low-loss guiding structure equivalent to the optical fiber that is so prevalent at the visible wavelengths. The presence of strong inherent vibrational absorption bands in solids and the high skin-depth losses of conductors make the traditional microstripline circuits, conventional dielectric lines, or metallic waveguides, which are common at microwave frequencies, much too lossy to be used in the THz bands. Even the modern surface plasmon polariton waveguides are much too lossy for long-distance transmission in the THz bands. We describe a concept for overcoming this drawback and describe a new family of ultra-low-loss ribbon-based guide structures and matching components for propagating single-mode THz signals. For straight runs this ribbon-based waveguide can provide an attenuation constant that is more than 100 times less than that of a conventional dielectric or metallic waveguide. Problems dealing with efficient coupling of power into and out of the ribbon guide, achieving low-loss bends and branches, and forming THz circuit elements are discussed in detail. One notes that active circuit elements can be integrated directly onto the ribbon structure (when it is made with semiconductor material) and that the absence of metallic structures in the ribbon guide provides the possibility of high-power carrying capability. It thus appears that this ribbon-based dielectric waveguide and associated components can be used as fundamental building blocks for a new generation of ultra-high-speed electronic integrated circuits or THz interconnects.
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