Wednesday, January 17, 2018

New technology could bring spectrometry to smartphones

The blue perforated plane is the upper
membrane with the photonic crystal
cavity in it, which captures light of a
very specific frequency
PARCA eNews – Jan. 2, 2018 – Could doctors one day perform complex imaging using their smartphones? It is possible given the a new sensor developed by researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Dutch researchers have developed a sensor that is able to make precise measurements in a novel way using special 'photonics crystal cavity," a kind of trap of just a few micrometers into which light falls and cannot escape. The trap is contained in a membrane, in which the captured light generates a tiny electrical current that can be measured. 
The Eindhoven researchers published their findings in the Dec. 20, 2017, journal Nature Communications

Spectrometers split visible and invisible light and measures the different frequencies separately. Every material from heavy metals to malignant tumors reflect and absorb light in a unique way. Applications for spectrometry range from astronomy to medical diagnosis. MRI and x-ray machines use a form of radio-frequency spectroscopy, so putting the imaging power of spectrometry into a device the size of smart phone would mark a major advance in imaging.

The device demonstrated currently covers just a tiny range of frequencies and the researchers expect it will take another five years or more before the new spectrometer covers a wide enough range to make applications that can actually be incorporated into a smartphone.

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