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.