Easy-to-use spectrometer costs less than $300, holds promise for remote medical diagnostics
Spectral images, which contain more color information than is obtainable with a typical camera, reveal characteristics of tissue and other biological samples that can't be seen by the naked eye. A new smartphone-compatible device that is held like a pencil could make it practical to acquire spectral images of everyday objects and may eventually be used for point-of-care medical diagnosis in remote locations.
Potential applications of the new device include detecting oxygen saturation in a person's blood, determining the freshness of meat in the grocery store and identifying fruit that is the perfect ripeness. The spectrometer could also make it easier to acquire spectral data in the field for scientific studies.
In The Optical Society (OSA) journal Biomedical Optics Express, the researchers describe how to make the new pencil-like spectrometer and demonstrate its ability to acquire spectral images of bananas, pork and a person's hand. The new device can detect wavelengths from 400 to 676 nanometers at 186 spots simultaneously.
"The easiest way to use a spectrometer is to wave it over the part of the body or object being examined," said first author Fuhong Cai, Hainan University, China. "However, many home-made portable spectrometers use a smartphone camera to acquire data and a phone cradle that contains other necessary optics. The cradle can be hard to align correctly and makes it awkward to wave the smartphone over the body."
Rather than using a smartphone camera to acquire images, the new spectrometer uses a commercially available complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) camera that wirelessly transmits images to a smartphone. This approach allowed the researchers to assemble a cylindrical spectral imaging device weighing just 140 grams (about 5 ounces) that is about the length of smartphone and just over 3 centimeters in diameter.
Using off-the-shelf components
The new pencil-like spectrometer uses all commercially-available components that can be purchased for less than $300 (US). The light source is an array of white LEDs, which connects to an off-the-shelf optical lens tube with the CMOS detector and other optical components necessary for spectral imaging.
One can use the pencil-like spectrometer simply by moving it across the target area by hand. This manual push-broom scanning process builds up a series of spectral images that are sent to a smartphone or computer where software stitches the spectral images together into a 3D spectral image data cube.
The researchers tested the spectrometer by using it to detect banana ripeness and levels of myoglobin -- the iron-containing protein that gives meat its color--in a piece of pork. They also used it to scan a person's hand, obtaining a 16-second video containing 200 spectral images. From the 3D spectral images, the researchers could distinguish five fingers and the palm and saw differences in hemoglobin distribution in various parts of the hand.
The researchers are also interested in using their compact imaging spectrometer for environmental monitoring. "We're developing distributed spectral cameras that could be used for a wide range of ocean surveys, such as detecting dissolved organic matter in water or pigments that indicate early signs of harmful algal blooms," said Cai. "Since the imaging spectrometer can connect to any type of camera, we are also examining the idea of attaching it to the camera of an autonomous vehicle to create a remote ocean sensing system."
Optimizing the system
Although using commercially-available components to make the prototype means that anyone can assemble the device, it also places some limits on resolution and sensitivity. For example, the prototype can only resolve wavelengths that differ by at least 17 nanometers.
"We expect significant spectral resolution improvements in the future by using an improved camera with a long focal length lens," said Dan Wang, Beijing University of Chemical Technology, China, a member of the research team. "These improvements would expand the applications for the device."
The researchers also plan to develop software to make the spectral imager even more useful. "We want to develop ways to use machine learning algorithms to analyze the massive amounts of data that could be collected with the portable spectra imager," said Sailing He, Zhejiang University, China, a member of the research team. "We also want to create software for smartphones that uses spectral imaging data to measure meat freshness, for example."
Paper: F. Cai, D. Wang, M. Zhu, S. He, "A pencil-like imaging spectrometer for bio-samples sensing," Biomed. Opt. Express, Volume 8, Issue 12, 5427-5436 (2017). DOI: 10.1364/BOE.8.005427.
About Biomedical Optics Express
Biomedical Optics Express is OSA's principal outlet for serving the biomedical optics community with rapid, open-access, peer-reviewed papers related to optics, photonics and imaging in the life sciences. The journal scope encompasses theoretical modeling and simulations, technology development, and biomedical studies and clinical applications. It is published by The Optical Society and edited by Christoph Hitzenberger, Medical University of Vienna. Biomedical Optics Express is an open-access journal and is available at no cost to readers online at OSA Publishing.
About The Optical Society
Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and business leaders who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. For more information, visit osa.org.
Rebecca B. Andersen
The Optical Society
The Optical Society
Joshua Miller | EurekAlert!
Novel PET imaging agent could help guide therapy for brain diseases
03.04.2018 | Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
New Computer Architecture: Time Lapse for Dementia Research
29.03.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen e.V. (DZNE)
At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.
Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
24.04.2018 | Information Technology
24.04.2018 | Earth Sciences
24.04.2018 | Life Sciences