Raman-on-Chip for High-Throughput, High-Resolution Handheld Spectroscopy

SAN FRANCISCO (USA), JAN 31, 2019 — Next week, at SPIE BIOS and SPIE Photonics West 2019 in San Francisco, imec, a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies, presents an on-chip solution for Raman spectroscopy - based on a newly patented concept - providing high optical throughput and high spectral resolution. The solution could pave the way for affordable high-end handheld Raman spectroscopy device opening up many new applications. Imec invites technology partners and IDMs to further develop the technology into a commercial application.

Raman spectroscopy is a powerful technique, most often used to determine chemical and material composition. Application areas include the medical, food, even space industries. Because of the inherent nature of the technique, existing devices are rather bulky (tabletop) and have a price range of a few hundred thousand dollars/euros. Handheld solutions exist, but for the moment fail to reach the desired performance for high-end applications, largely because of the limited scaling capacity of conventional dispersive Raman spectrometry whereby scattered light is focused on a slit. Scaling while maintaining high spectral resolution (< 1nm) means reducing the size of the slit which immediately limits the optical throughput.

Thanks to a new concept, for which a patent is pending, imec has now been able to overcome this performance barrier. By massive parallelization of waveguide interferometers integrated monolithically on top of a CMOS image sensor, both high optical throughput and high spectral resolution can be reached in a miniaturized device. This novel system is built in imec’s SiN biophotonics platform which guarantees robustness and compatibility with high-volume manufacturing. Part of the work was performed under the EU-funded IoSense program.

Pol Van Dorpe, principal member of the technical staff at imec:

“We are very pleased to have achieved this milestone which can mean a breakthrough for the general applicability of Raman spectroscopy. One could even think about smartphone integration. With the right partners we see many application opportunities in areas like food analysis, melanoma detection, or skin hydration. In the medical domain, we see opportunities for in-line measurements during surgery or endoscopy. And for space exploration, the ability to perform material analysis with a compact system is of tremendous value.”

 

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Hanne Degans
press communications manager - imec

About IoSense

This research has received funding from the Electronic Component Systems for European Leadership Joint Undertaking in the framework of the IoSense project under grant agreement No 692480. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Slovakia.

About imec

Imec is a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. The combination of our widely acclaimed leadership in microchip technology and profound software and ICT expertise is what makes us unique. By leveraging our world-class infrastructure and local and global ecosystem of partners across a multitude of industries, we create groundbreaking innovation in application domains such as healthcare, smart cities and mobility, logistics and manufacturing, energy and education.

As a trusted partner for companies, start-ups and universities we bring together more than 4,000 brilliant minds from over 85 nationalities. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and has distributed R&D groups at a number of Flemish universities, in the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA, China, and offices in India and Japan. In 2017, imec's revenue (P&L) totaled 546 million euro. Further information on imec can be found at www.imec-int.com.

Imec is a registered trademark for the activities of IMEC International (a legal entity set up under Belgian law as a "stichting van openbaar nut”), imec Belgium (IMEC vzw supported by the Flemish Government), imec the Netherlands (Stichting IMEC Nederland, part of Holst Centre which is supported by the Dutch Government), imec Taiwan (IMEC Taiwan Co.) and imec China (IMEC Microelectronics (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.) and imec India (Imec India Private Limited), imec Florida (IMEC USA nanoelectronics design center).

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