Multispectral Imaging

Wearable Electronics

Laser Projection

Food Analysis

Security

Quality of Life

Recent advances in microelectronics have brought many benefits to the private spheres of individuals around the globe. Affordable and easy to use portable devices have uniquely improved the quality of life and have been particularly profitable. MEMS technology developed at Fraunhofer IPMS makes it possible to configure more products to fulfill societal calls for improved safety, greater comfort in mobility or targeted support when selecting food, goods and medication. Technologies that were previously reserved for experts, can now be used by the general public.

Multispectral Imaging

Embodiment of the multispectral camera.
© Photo Fraunhofer IPMS

Embodiment of the multispectral camera.

Whether in security systems monitoring airports, tunnels or train stations, automotive driver assistance systems, remote sensing and environmental analysis, industrial metrology, quality control or medical technologies, wideband spectrum imaging is applied in many areas of everyday life. In addition to the visible spectral range, the infrared spectral range with wavelengths above a few microns is of particular interest. It offers extremely useful image information which is not provided in the visible range.

Fraunhofer IPMS has developed a camera system, which can simultaneously record images in different spectral regions without a parallax error. This is achieved by using just one lens. The system approach is based on a special mirror lens designed specifically for multispectral imaging. In contrast to transmissive lenses, mirrors are not limited by the transparent areas in VIS and IR and can therefore be implemented in several spectral ranges. Moreover, such systems eliminate chromatic aberrations that otherwise reduce image quality.

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Wearable Electronics

Shoe-embedded polymer energy harvester optimized for powering a transmitter module.
© Photo Fraunhofer IPMS

Shoe-embedded polymer energy harvester optimized for powering a transmitter module.

In recent years, converting kinetic energy from human motion into electrical energy has become an attractive approach to powering wearable electronic devices. The combination of energy production and portable electronic devices worn on the body build a self-sustaining system which can be found, for example, in fitness gadgets for tracking temperature, speed and position data.

Fraunhofer IPMS has developed an innovative energy harvesting system based on emergent electroactive polymers, which is small enough to be embedded in wearables. The mechanical-to-electrical converter device is based on thin polymer films with large relative permittivity. As compared with traditional piezoelectric concepts, this device works non-resonantly and can be optimized for harvesting energy from mechanical power sources also in the low frequency range.

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Laser Projection

For example laser projection is used in the head-up display of cars.
© Photo Fraunhofer IPMS

For example laser projection is used in the head-up display of cars.

High-quality data visualization is extremely important and plays a central role in both private and business environments in the modern information society. Today, large, high-resolution screens are used to accurately display photo and video content. However, mobile presentation remains problematic for partly different reasons.

Laser projection is, in many respects, a suitable solution for overcoming problems in the mobile presentation of information. Therefore, Fraunhofer IPMS is developing a scanner-mirror for light deflection in one and two dimensions. The »Laser Beam Steering« principle for imaging in which a laser beam is quickly guided across the screen is used. With a typical diameter of approximately one millimeter and made of monocrystalline silicon wafers, scanner-mirrors are manufactured in the Fraunhofer IPMS microsystems technology cleanroom according to established microelectronics methods. To facilitate necessary scanner-mirror movement, Fraunhofer IPMS implements an electrostatic drive via comb-shaped electrodes.

Many fields of application use laser-projected image and video display. By not using an imaging optic, it is possible to generate clear and sharp imaging on sloping as well as curved surfaces. Heads-Up-Displays as well as other driver-support applications in automobiles benefit from these advantages. Laser projection methods can also be used in LIDAR systems which will make partial or fully-autonomous driving possible in the future.

Food Analysis

Often it is noticed too late whether fruit has pressure marks or not.
© Photo Fraunhofer IPMS

Often it is noticed too late whether fruit has pressure marks or not.

Often, it is not easy for consumers to accurately evaluate the quality of food products. To ultimately determine whether the already-paid-for apple is actually fresh, one must take the first bite. In the future, a spectrometer will inform customers as to the quality of their food choices prior to purchase.

Fraunhofer IPMS has developed a micro-spectrometer able to be integrated into common smartphones. The application is based on a near-infrared spectrometer which illuminates a sample with broadband light to determine its proportions of water, sugar, starch, fat and protein. The light reflects various wavelengths in the near infrared area at different degrees of strength depending upon composition levels.

Thereby, an essential component of the Fraunhofer IPMS developed micro scanner with optical diffraction grating comes into action. The mechanical movement of the mirror provides a simple and cost-effective detector, resulting in significant cost advantages for the measurement of wavelength ranges (such as NIR above 1100 nm), in which more expensive III-V semiconductor elements rather than cheaper silicon detectors must be used.

Applications of the spectrometer are not limited to the food sector. Materials of diverse goods can be examined to confirm high-quality originals or identify low-quality copies. Used cars can be scanned to expose areas which have been painted over and the contents of medications and creams can also be verified.

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Security

SLO (Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscope) image of a retina.
© Photo Fraunhofer IPMS

SLO (Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscope) image of a retina.

With the increasing use of technology, unauthorized access to user accounts and sensitive infrastructures presents a worrisome challenge. Secure passwords, secret PIN codes and personal identification cards are often not enough to ensure complete protection.

Similar to a fingerprint, the blood vessel pattern of the retina is unique to each individual. Therefore, retina scanning can provide the accurate identification of any and every person. To improve personal as well as data security, Fraunhofer IPMS has developed a system for mobile authentication using retina scanning. This micro scanner is meant to be integrated into personal devices such as smartphones and can direct an eye-safe laser beam to systematically scan the retina. The newly developed optic then generates an image of the retinal surface from the reflected laser beams.

Through the secured identity of the user, mobile devices can provide key support to numerous everyday actions in which a high level of security is needed. Applications range from conducting mobile banking via electronic mail and entering personal housing, to controlling access to sensitive areas and critical infrastructure. Devices can also be used as mobile virtual displays, projecting information onto the retina to transmit personal data that cannot be seen by others.