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Raman-on-chip for high-throughput, high-resolution handheld spectroscopy

31 January 2019 | News
by Ian Michael

imec will present an on-chip solution for Raman spectroscopy at SPIE BIOS and SPIE Photonics West 2019 in San Francisco. This is based on a newly patented concept providing high optical throughput and high spectral resolution. The solution could pave the way for affordable high-end handheld Raman spectroscopy devices. Imec is looking for technology partners and IDMs to further develop the technology into a commercial application.

It is difficult to develop handheld solutions with the necessary performance for high-end applications, largely because of the limited scaling capacity of conventional dispersive Raman spectrometry whereby scattered light is focused on a slit. Scaling while maintaining high spectral resolution (<1 nm) means reducing the size of the slit which immediately limits the optical throughput. imec’s new concept, for which a patent is pending, uses massive parallelisation of waveguide interferometers integrated monolithically on top of a CMOS image sensor. This enables both high optical throughput and high spectral resolution in a miniaturised device. Part of the work was performed under the EU-funded IoSense programme.

Pol Van Dorpe, principal member of the technical staff at imec: “We are very pleased to have achieved this milestone which can mean a breakthrough for the general applicability of Raman spectroscopy. One could even think about smartphone integration. With the right partners we see many application opportunities in areas like food analysis, melanoma detection or skin hydration. In the medical domain, we see opportunities for in-line measurements during surgery or endoscopy. And for space exploration, the ability to perform material analysis with a compact system is of tremendous value.”

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