Solutions in Action
We’ve helped create some pretty incredible products, providing modules, sub-assemblies, and complete systems that use optical techniques to solve the most challenging problems in industry. We can’t tell you about them all, but here is a sampling of some of the most interesting applications we’ve tackled, and how we did it.
The Problem: Top-shelf liquor commands premium prices, tempting resellers and serving establishments to pass off substandard or diluted product in high-end brand bottles.
The Application: By looking at the UV/VIS absorbance signature and comparing against a library using partial least squares analysis, the brand, integrity, and distillery of origin of a spirit can be verified.
The Solution: A fully integrated system with laptop PC and sample chambers, capable of identifying and authenticating more than 15 brands of rum, whiskey, and vodka in under 5 seconds. A traffic light-style result interface allows it to be used in the field by non-experts.
- Full electronics system, including wiring, harness, control circuit assembly (CCA) for the light source, shutters, spectrometer, and USB hub
- Li-ion battery, charge circuit, and power supply for seamless field use
- Cooling fans on dynamic feedback loop for system temperature regulation
- Custom software programs for building new databases and analysis of product in the field
The Problem: Contamination of peanuts with aflatoxin is carefully regulated, but monitoring in food products requires sending samples to a lab for HPLC testing.
The Application: Fluorescence-based detection offers a rapid, accurate alternative to HPLC detection of aflatoxin in non-lab settings. By looking at ratios of multiple fluorescence peaks, the levels of multiple mycotoxins can be assessed simultaneously.
The Solution: A complex optical sub-assembly to interrogate a glass capillary containing the sample. Once mounted in the customer-provided chamber, this subsystem becomes a drop-in component to the final system.
- Optical subsystem consisting of LED illumination module, light collection and filtering optics, QE65000 spectrometer, and neon wavelength calibration source
- Automated 12-point spectrometer calibration routine run by onboard CCA
- Custom firmware using subpixel interpolation to report values at consistent wavelengths from system to system
- Integrated cooling system to maintain constant spectrometer temperature
The Problem: Contamination of drinking water and industrial wastewater with heavy metals has become a significant environmental problem. Rapid and sensitive measurement on location allows pollution to be identified and monitored in the early stages, allowing proactive correction before toxic levels are reached.
The Application: Plasma emission of light by the water under test contains emission lines in the UV and visible portions of the spectrum which are unique to the elements in the sample. By matching against a library, heavy metals and other elements can be conclusively identified.
The Solution: A turnkey system in a pelican case for identification of 39 heavy metals at limits of detection varying from 0.1 ppb to 5%. The MayaPro 2000 spectrometer at the heart of this system provides sensitive detection in just 2 minutes per sample in environments from 5 to 35°C.
- Design and manufacture of a complete system including a laptop, sample chamber, optical detection system, and custom software
- Integrated power supply from customer, with a custom distribution circuit to divide power between a DC power supply for the laptop/USB hub and the vaporization circuit
- Custom board and switch to control delivery of short term, high power to the vaporizing coil
- Cooling fans to support broad operating temperature range
The Problem: Taxation of fuels provides essential revenue to governments, but subsidization of essential fuel products is equally important to economic health. Both practices are vulnerable to fuel adulteration and fraud.
The Application: Addition of special markers in fuel at the refinery allows the flow and authenticity of fuel to be tracked at checkpoints, deterring illegal activity and ensuring the quality of fuel and fuel products. The addition of silver colloids to the sample allows SERS (surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy) to quickly scan for the presence and concentration of the markers.
The Solution: A field-portable pelicase with drop-in sample ports for vials of fuel, capable of testing samples inserted into the drop-in port. A dual English/Spanish interface, GPS, barcode scanner to identify the operator/station, and remote data return via WiFi allows location-specific data to be quickly acquired and instantly transferred to a central server.
- Fully integrated system housed in a pelican case; robust performance at only 6 kg.
- Bilingual field, lab, and quality control software interface programs.
- Dual power option (rechargeable battery, 110/240 V outlet).
- Integrated barcode scanner, GPS, and WiFi dongle.
- Wrote principal component analysis software for sample analysis; co-developed analytical method.
The Problem: Shipping vessels are a significant global source of emissions of NOx, SOx, and other gases. In-situ monitoring is needed to ensure that emissions control systems are working effectively and within regulations.
The Application: Direct absorption measurement of stack gases in the UV allows the concentration of NO, NO2, SO2, and NH3 to be determined at point of exhaust from the system at ~500°C, without scrubbing the exhaust or cleaning system.
The Solution: A drop-in optical measurement module composed for integration at customer with light source and sampling chamber. The custom fiber and EMBED-Maya spectrometer provides data within 10 seconds, updates every second, and runs off a custom processor using an SPI bus interface.
- Integrated Blackfin processor with Linux operating system
- SPI bus to interface and custom communications protocol, including a unique API
- Custom optical fiber with multiple fibers bundled around central fibers for light collection