Miniature spectrometer for the smartphone
Recognizing fake drugs? Testing water samples ourselves? Checking the quality of air? In the future, it could be possible to do all this using a smartphone in a quick, cost-effective and straightforward way. The process is being made possible by a spectrometer, weighing just one gram, from the Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems ENAS. The aim is to mass-produce this component for around a euro using conventional technologies.
Websites sometimes offer drugs at a much lower price than pharmacies. While we can be sure that the medicines we buy from local stores are the quality we expect, online bargains often lead us to question whether we are being palmed off with an ineffective or a differently composed counterfeit. In the future, we will be able to find out quickly and easily: Using a chip spectrometer currently being developed by researchers at Fraunhofer ENAS.
As a comparison: At present, infrared spectrometers weigh several kilograms and cost thousands of euros to produce. Although transportable devices weighing slightly less do exist, they are unsuitable for the mass market – in terms of cost and size and also in terms of operation and analyzing the results. Other requirements crucial to existing on the mass market: The technology must not be overly complex – in other words, it must be easy to operate – and the production method must be suitable for the mass market.