Could you believe if I say, you can be assessing the freshness of foods, the quality of drugs, or identify counterfeit objects, all from a smartphone camera?
Yes by the use of Nanotechnology it is possible.
Scientists have developed a spectrometer made from a single nanowire, an advance that could see spectroscopic devices incorporated into smartphones. Cambridge university research team developed this technology. They have used a nanowire whose material composition is varied along its length, enabling it to be responsive to different colours of light across the visible spectrum. Using techniques similar to those used for the manufacture of computer chips, they then created a series of light-responsive sections on this nanowire. That nanowire allows to get rid of the dispersive elements, like a prism, producing a far simpler, ultra-miniaturised system than conventional spectrometers can allow. The individual responses we get from the nanowire sections can then be directly fed into a computer algorithm to reconstruct the incident light spectrum.
When we take a photograph, the information stored in pixels is generally limited to just three components – red, green, and blue. With this device, every pixel contains data points from across the visible spectrum, so we can acquire detailed information far beyond the colours which our eyes can perceive. This can tell us, for instance, about chemical processes occurring in the frame of the image. This approach could allow unprecedented miniaturisation of spectroscopic devices, to an extent that could see them incorporated directly into smartphones, bringing powerful analytical technologies from the lab to the palm of our hands.
The Cambridge team has filed a patent on the technology and hopes to see real-life applications within the next five years.
Credit: Nano Magazine