A research team in Germany managed to invent the smallest spectrometer in the world in the form of a chip, to examine the validity of food and drug in infrared, as it can be integrated in the future in smartphones for personal use.
The micro-spectrometer chip weighs only about one gram, said Dr. Alexander Weiss, a co-project researcher from the Integrated Multi-electronics Department at the German Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronics Systems (ENAS).
Weiss added that the cost of producing the chip will be allocated using traditional technologies for less than a euro, which will allow it to be integrated in a fast, efficient, and low-cost manner in smartphones.
Today, Monday, the "Food Processing" website for nutrition news, stated that the potential applications of the mini-spectrometer are unlimited, including the identification of counterfeit medicines, and the assessment of the ripeness or bacterial decomposition of foods to determine their suitability for human and animal consumption.
The mini-spectrometer can be used to measure air quality inside buildings and vehicles, and to detect pollutants in the air or water.
How does it work?
The miniature spectrophotometer works just like a conventional infrared spectrometer, by emitting light beams in the infrared range, it identifies the characteristic spectrum of each sample obtained similar to a fingerprint.
For example, a counterfeit pill contains various components, which are detected by the spectrometer; Because it has a different spectrum than the original drug.
The research team developed the concept of intelligent learning algorithms in making the mini spectrometer so that if many people use the technology, the system will learn quickly.
When using the technology, the user will simply need to operate the spectrometer through a special application on his phone, and he will, for example, check a food product to assess its suitability. The more people use the system, the more comparisons can be made, the researchers said.
The research team has already produced spectrophotometer chips, and they succeeded in proof of concept, as a number of procedures are still required, and if achieved, the technology will be commercially available within two years.
A conventional infrared spectrometer weighs several kilograms and costs thousands of dollars to produce.
Although there are lighter and portable spectrometers, they are not suitable for personal use, due to their large size, high cost, and the difficulty of the process in analyzing the results.