Tiny, chip-based device transforming spectrometryMassachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed a new inexpensive approach to making spectrometers, which could allow the devices to be mass produced for a number of new uses.
The MIT researchers suggest that the new approach to making spectrometers on a chip could give advantages in performance, size, weight and power consumption compared to spectrometers currently on the market.
Their system is based on optical switches that can flip a beam of light between different optical pathways, which can also be different lengths. The electronic optical switches eliminate the need to use movable mirrors and can easily made using standard chip-making technology.
The researchers built the device with an industry-standard semiconductor manufacturing service. The device had six sequential switches to produce 64 spectral channels. It also had built-in processing capability to control the device and process its output. Using this manufacturing method allowed to to expand to 10 switches, making the resolution rise to 1,024 channels. The device is developed as a plug-and-play unit that can be easily integrated with existing optical networks.