But Georgia Tech researchers have developed a technology to help spectrometers -- instruments that can be used as the main parts of sensors that can detect substances present in even ultra-small concentrations -- analyze substances using fewer parts in a wider variety of environments, regardless of lighting. The technology can improve the portability while reducing the size, complexity, and cost of many sensing and diagnostics systems that use spectrometers. The technology has appeared in Applied Optics, Optics Express and Optics Letters and was presented as an invited talk at the IEEE Lasers and Electro-Optics Society Annual Meeting 2005.
Conventional spectrometers have multiple parts -- a narrow slit, a lens (to guide light), a grating (to separate wavelengths), a second lens and a detector (to detect the power at different wavelengths). The Georgia Tech team's goal was to combine all these pieces into two parts, a volume hologram (formed in an inexpensive piece of polymer) and a detector, to create a compact, efficient and inexpensive spectrometer that could be used for multiple spectroscopy and sensing applications.
"This technology is very useful for low-end spectrometers, but at the same time, there are many applications that require high-end spectrometers. This technology could convert a portion of a complex, high-end system into a much more versatile and light system," said Ali Adibi, head of the project and an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Because of its light weight and relative insensitivity to optical alignment, the new design helps create more versatile and portable spectrometers for several applications where portability had been difficult. For instance, the technology would make hand held devices possible for carbon monoxide detection or on-the-spot b
Contact: Megan McRainey
Georgia Institute of Technology