methaneDr. Pala received Qatar National Research Fund, National Priorities Research Program award for his research on Integrated Terahertz Technologies for Methane Gas Production from Clathrates and Real Time Analysis. The award will provide support for graduate students and research expenses for 3 years.


The objective of this project is to develop methods and devices to utilize emerging THz technology in clathrate analysis, methane gas extraction from clathrates and real time analysis.

More specifically, in the first step, we will measure THz absorption spectrums of different clathrates using Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and THz Time Domain Spectroscopy (TDS) to analyze molecular vibration and rotation characteristics as well as to obtain spectral fingerprint data base.

In the second step we will develop nitride-based semiconductor THz sources and detectors with enhanced characteristics by utilizing combination of our novel plasma wave approach and newly observed electron-transit-time effects. With their large sheet carrier concentrations, large breakdown voltage and high peak electron velocities nitride-based wide band-gap semiconductors have strong candidates for millimeter wave and THz emitters as well as tunable plasmonic THz detectors and filters.


Implementation of these devices would allow for significantly higher radiation emission and durability while demanding less power, weight, and space. On the other hand, resonant absorption of THz radiation by the plasmons at the 2D electron gas in nitride-based HEMTs would allow tunable detection of spectroscopic absorption lines and thereby detection and identification of various chemical molecules including gases.

moleculeIn the final step of the proposed research we will experimentally demonstrate the methane gas extraction form methane hydrates by THz electromagnetic radiation excitation and analyze the extracted gas in real-time by using the proposed tunable plasmonic THz detectors.

We anticipate that theproposed work will result in revolutionary new techniques and devices for methane extraction and real-time analysis as well as a data base for THz absorption characteristics of various hydrates which could be an invaluable resource for the researchers in the field for future studies. We aim to develop a prototype device to demonstrate feasibility of the proposed method and to proceed into a possible commercialization plan. Development of THz semiconductor emitters and tunable detectors will also benefit many other fields of science and technology including but not limited to security imaging, medical imaging, biological and chemical sensing, detection and identification, water quality monitoring. Results of the theoretical and experimental studies will be disclosed in patents and in peer-reviewed journals and conferences.

Qatar National Vision (QNV) 2030 was approved by His Highness (HH) the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. In QNV 2030 declaration has four pillars and two of those are sustainable economic growth and environmental development. Qatar being the third largest natural gas producer and the key player around the globe has great potential in achieving remarkable sustainable economic growth. Whereas, establishing environmentally friendly facilities is a big challenge that must be resolved. With this regard HH Sheikh Tamim Al-Thani granted QU its autonomy from the government for establishing a world class Gas Processing Center (GPC) and created a very prestigious board of regents chaired by HH as well. We proudly acknowledge that this proposal fits well with one of the 4 common support themes of Gas Processing Center (GPC) at Qatar University and endorsed by their leadership. The knowledge we generate in this proposal will pave the way for efficient methane extraction from currently untapped resources and ultimately benefit the state of Qatar in both financial and technological terms.
The awarded funding for this proposal is $1,041,021 for a three year period.