Raman-on-a-chip boost for handheld, smartphone test

February 01, 2019 //By Nick Flaherty
Raman-on-a-chip boost for handheld, smartphone test
imec in Belgium has developed a chip-level system for Raman spectroscopy that can be used to create handheld testers or even integrated into a smartphone.

Raman spectroscopy is a powerful technique, most often used to determine chemical and material composition with applications in the medical, food and even space industries. Existing devices are bulky tabletop systems and costing several hundred thousand euros. Handheld solutions exist, but for the moment fail to reach the desired 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. Maintaining a high spectral resolution under
1nm requires reducing the size of the slit which immediately limits the optical throughput.

The patented technique developed at imec in the EU-funded IoSense programme uses massive parallelization of waveguide interferometers integrated monolithically on top of a CMOS image sensor, providing both high optical throughput and high spectral resolution can be reached in a miniaturized device. The device is built in imec’s SiN robust biophotonics platform that is compatible with high-volume manufacturing. 

“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," said Pol Van Dorpe, principal member of the technical staff at imec. "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. For space exploration, the ability to perform material analysis with a compact system is of tremendous value.”

www.imec.be

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