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Home > News & Events > What Spectroscopy Can Do for You

What Spectroscopy Can Do for You

Modular Spectroscopy Solves Measurement Problems

With the advent of miniature, modular spectroscopy, instruments once characterized by their large size and lack of flexibility became 1000x smaller and easily customizable into hundreds of different configurations – each optimized for a specific application. Rather than adapt her measurement needs to the instrument at hand, the customer could now take control of the application by configuring a system tailored to her requirements. The result has been nothing less than a step change in measurement technology.

Advantages of Modular Spectroscopy

marine mollusks shell reflection

Although portable, the earliest miniature, modular spectrometers didn’t always fit nicely into a backpack.

Today’s modular spectrometers are more accessible than ever, enabling new generations of researchers to take advantage of an evolution in spectral technology:

  • Fiber optics changed everything. When the emergence of miniature spectrometers coincided with development of portable, low-cost PCs and modular fiber optics, spectroscopy was no longer limited to the lab. Opportunities in field and process applications were now viable.
  • Smaller became better. The notion that miniature spectrometers are less robust than larger, benchtop systems has been disproved many times over. That’s because of improvements in detectors, optical bench components and electronics, fostered, in part, by the rise of handheld instrumentation.
  • Modularity made “mass customization” possible. Miniature, modular spectroscopy simplifies the product development process by allowing users to test ideas on a flexible optical platform that is easily scaled to volume manufacture. The same spectrometer platform used in initial testing can be customized and integrated with other optical, electrical and mechanical components to create a complete solution, then reproduced in large volumes.
Bonus material: Learn how a spectrometer smaller than a matchbox measures DNA absorbance; read about high-volume OEM applications made possible by modular spectroscopy

Advances in Computing and Connectivity

Today’s computing capabilities did not exist when modular spectrometers were first developed. Now, it’s hard to imagine a time when acquiring and processing scientific data wasn’t as simple as it is today. Computers acquire data and process it with amazing speed, providing immediate answers. Smartphones and mobile devices put remarkable computing power at your fingertips.

remote sensing from UAV

UAV-based spectroscopy takes off

Advances in computing have driven optical sensing into new applications, limited only by the creativity of the researchers and product developers using them. One such convergence of these technologies is our STS Developers Kit, which combines the STS microspectrometer with a Raspberry Pi microcomputer, customizable software and wireless capabilities in a single package. With minimal development time, the kit can be configured for a variety of laboratory, process monitoring and environmental applications. Uses include developing handheld devices for light metrology and color measurement, creating cloud-connected measurement clusters, and even mounting instruments on UAVs for remote monitoring.

Bonus material: Smartphone spectrometers in the news; building a UV index monitor

Spectroscopy in Search of Challenges

Ocean Optics experiences firsthand how customers around the globe are using modular spectroscopy in pursuit of research, education and applications that solve problems and often elevate us all. We are inspired by the creative ways that our customers are solving measurement problems using spectroscopy. Here are some examples:

Application Area Challenge Solution  Learn More
Agriculture Estimating the nutritional quality of forage consumed by grazing animals as an indicator of animal health NIR spectroscopy determines accurate chemical analysis of animal fecal matter  NIR-System+Sheep
Authentication Demand for olive oil exceeds supply; sales of adulterated and diluted olive oil are on the rise, yet no convenient method of validating quality exists Absorbance spectroscopy offers a simple method to detect dilution with lower grade olive oil, or adulteration with other oils, flavors and colorants Olive Oil Bottles
Environmental Monitoring Contamination of water is best addressed in the earliest stages of pollution, before extensive remediation is necessary High sensitivity spectrometer measures plasma emission of toxic heavy metals in water  waste_water_pipe
Research & Science Organic solar cells are limited by low power conversion efficiency Reflectance spectroscopy monitors the optical properties of new efficiency-boosting cell materials such as nanoparticles  Solar Cell
Security Trace detection of explosives is increasingly difficult as the bad guys become more sophisticated SERS offers highly sensitive detection and is compatible with handheld Raman systems  Dog sniffing luggage

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