Spectroscopy Measuring Continues to Enhance Food Production

We want and need our food to be as sustainable and healthy as possible. That idea has been around for a long time, but what is becoming more accessible are the tools and ideas with which to measure food production. Amazingly, spectroscopy has a role to play here, and for the best results, one needs a spectroradiometer or spectrometer of fine caliber.

This finding comes based on research by the University of Basque Country and its Department of Analytical Chemistry. Scientists there used a simple but elegant technique to measure the biological composition of fruit and vegetables down to the molecular level. And they did so using a relatively simple portable Raman spectrometer, a very similar instrument to the more complex spectroradiometer.

The use of laboratory-level equipment in the kitchen may seem over the top, but it is, in fact, non-invasive and completely harmless to the food you eat according to this study. Technology also provides useful data. Josu Trebolazabala was a lead researcher in the study, and he put the possible gains to be had deploying this technology thusly: “Our idea was to come up with a tool that could help producers find out when their tomatoes have reached their optimum ripeness point. This is achieved without destroying the fruit.”

By using a spectrometer, the team was able to tell the molecular composition of tomatoes and understand its phases of ripening to an extremely precise level. Taken on a larger scale, this type of research could help growers, distributors, and consumers of vegetables better coordinate the worldwide process of food consumption.

As we move into the 21st century, sustainability will continue to be a key in how we use our natural resources. Light-based calibration processes, such as those involving spectroradiometers, may play a surprising role in helping with precision crop growth. But to do so, experts in the field of molecular light measurement will need to continue to make progress for the ease and accuracy of readings. At Gooch and Housego, we can contribute in a myriad of ways with instruments that range from laboratory level complexity to those that can run on a simple Windows-based laptop. For more information on what we can do (and to find out more about the world-class spectroradiometers in our inventory), contact us anytime at 407-422-3171.

Hollow Fiber Optic Antenna Used to Measure Respiratory Rate

It feels more and more as if our technology can be a key asset in the pursuit of better health and wellness. This can go far beyond the sophisticated tools of hospitals and laboratories. Precision light measurement and fiber optics have a role to play here. As shown in recent research by Université Laval’s Faculty of Science and Engineering, the very things we wear may be used as tools for measuring our vitals.

Ingeniously outfitting a t-shirt with sensors, the team was able to create a device that monitors a wearer’s breath rate in true real-time. Completely non-invasive, the fiber-optic based device is a small antenna attached to the shirt at chest level that accurately reads a person’s breathing. Although it may be simple for the person being monitored, it is not a simple piece of technology; this hollow fiber optic was coated with a type of silver and polymer that allows it to accurately read the volume of air in the lungs as well as the contraction of the thorax.
The need for hyper-precision is clear, as the shirt is meant to be worn by those with asthma, sleep apnea, and pulmonary obstructive diseases. All are types of conditions that are not easily monitored even by the patient themselves. Use of the cutting-edge shirt for those with sleep apnea has obvious possible benefits, as the monitoring of breathing levels can be kept exact throughout the night.

The design concept is meant to take data from various points and collectively deliver it to a smartphone or tablet. The researchers at the optic center at the Université Laval had not even begun to make inroads on the ways in which an app could be designed and developed; their primary concern was the proper function of the fiber optic monitor. The success in this department looks promising; they reported being able to send the shirt through a full wash over 20 times with the unit still working as needed.
Precision light measurement is at the heart of much photonic-based technical innovation, and the smart shirt is no different. The fiber optic coating must be precise and the materials must be durable for readings to reach a level of use. Gooch & Housego is a field leader in the testing of such standards. For more information on our products and services, contact us anytime at 407-422-3171. Keep up to date on the latest photonics news by following our social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.

3D Holography May be Coming to Smartphones in the Near Future

LED technologies and smartphones are being pushed to their furthest and most useful edges together. It seems almost daily we are seeing stories about progressive tech using the finest materials to break new ground on what LEDs can do; from camera phones as thin as a paper to LEDs growing food in skyscrapers. 3-D holograms produced on smartphones are the latest in ground-breaking display technology.

Researchers from across the world worked to make this a possibility, uniting from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT). What they have developed is the thinnest nanometric hologram on record, which is a concept that really only became possible in the last few years due to technical challenges.

As was pointed out by the teams, holograms, in a normal sense, have been around for some time, but the tools needed to modulate the light waves were cumbersome. This limited the places in which hologram technology could be placed, and, of course, completely ruled out something as thin as a smartphone. But the joint group figured out how to create 60 nm holograms from a type of sophisticated topological insulator material. This allows, in theory, holographic images to jump from the thin flatness of a modern smartphone.

The results of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications, and its potential impact is huge. Hologram technology, if easily created, can have uses in everything from energy to medicine to communication.

Professor Min Gu (of RMIT) led the study, and one of the biggest points he made was how critical it was to make a hologram technology that could be replicated. He said, “Our nano-hologram is also fabricated using a simple and fast direct laser writing system, which makes our design suitable for large-scale uses and mass manufacture.”

The first time most people saw hand-held holographic technology was in 1977: Star Wars literally beamed the concept with the image of Princess Leia’s communication. That very idea, with the uncovering of Professor Gu’s research, seems startlingly close to reality. In no place may nano-hologram technology be more applicable (or coveted) than in consumer electronics. The possibilities there are boundless.

This hologram display technology has great potential to become even more refined. The researchers involved in this study believe they can actually continue to shrink the footprint of hologram creation devices by at least 10 times. The future for holograms is growing, and there is no limit in sight.

Could LEDs Lead to the End of Pesticides?

Pesticides work well, but as a one-size-fits-all method, they are the embodiment of pre-21st-century technology when applied to the natural world. Pesticides can be dangerous for animals and people, which they were never intended for, as they are truly inexact in targeting. Pesticides are loathed for a reason, but they are also used for one: crops will be damaged and destroyed without proper pest and disease management. But, could some bold developments in LED testing make the use of pesticides obsolete?

Jaimin Patel, a plant pathologist working at the Lighting Research Center of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, thinks so. As LEDs have become commonly applied to farming techniques to improve growth, taste, and space requirements, there may be yet another way they can help us with our crops: the stop of plant disease and degradation.
Patel is studying the effects of particular wavelengths of LEDs on plants. In particular, he is researching which pathogens crumble in which light and how this knowledge can be used on a more wide scale. For example, his team recently figured out how to attack certain mildew pathogens that are sensitive to light and harmful to plants. That team has worked with everything from cucumbers to strawberries and sees similarities in the way light affects all.

When speaking with Lux magazine, the researcher made a specific example of how basil can be improved:

“I want to make sure that my research controls diseases as well as increases some of the crops marketability parameters, for example in the case of basil,” he said. “LED light could be used to increase the weight of basil leaves, meaning that if the plants are sold by weight, then there is going to be financial advantage for the grower.”

This type of sustainable growing is needed in a world where land is at a premium and crops are vital. In the past, although the LED technology was possible, the cost of effectively using it on a wide scale was insurmountable. This may no longer be an issue.

If everything from pathogens to plant flavors can be transformed by LED testing, than perhaps so can their vulnerabilities to pests. This is part of the hope in those who see a future where pesticides are no longer needed and well-calibrated LED lights are set with an eye towards horticulture. A future of a cleaner environment is something we can all be excited about.

Red LED Lights & Diabetes

Our science community is routinely coming up with innovative ways to blend LEDs and medicine, including some that would seem straight out of a science-fiction novel. An approach for pumping insulin for diabetics would seem within this realm, as scientists from East China Normal University in Shanghai are pioneering a method for using red LEDs to stimulate cells. The results, if replicable, could lead to a better way of life for those suffering from diabetes.

In the research, human cells were engineered specifically with a light-sensitive gene that is found commonly in plants. This gene produces insulin on-demand when exposed to red LED light, which, in the laboratory study, was stimulated wirelessly with a smartphone app. By adjusting the intensity of the light exposed to the genes, researchers were able to carefully control the amount of insulin provided to a patient.

Of course, at this point, the patients were only mice. Human testing in what is known in the scientific community as the field of optogenetics (basically regulating biological functions with light sources) is still a distant prospect due to a number of issues. Among them, the LED calibration must be so precise that error is impossible, and researchers are still grappling with the best ways to actually beam this light.

So far, there have been two main concepts considered:

  • LED-sensitive discs implanted in the skin, as done by the Chinese study.
  • Bracelets and wearable devices that could infer the same frequency of light without being as intrusive.

Whether providing more treatment options for diabetes or other conditions, the future of LED-based therapy is bright. Cumbersome insulin injections delivered through wearable devices are the common practice for the 1.25 million Americans that the American Diabetes Association says currently have the disease. Although functional, a device based on light technology, and possibly automatically run through a simple smartphone app, could be a revolution in ease of use.

To get there, much more stringent LED calibration techniques must be applied and understood by the scientific community. Although the Shanghai study, which was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine is promising, it is a long way from being a certifiable method to help people. But the more we learn about the LED spectrum, the more it seems clear that its power can unlock impressive medicines to our modern world.

 

Product Spotlight: OL 770 Test and Measurement System

LED calibration instruments are measured on the accuracy they can achieve and the degree to which that accuracy is achieved. The OL 770 Test and Measurement System hits both metrics, and it does so in a user-friendly package that can be used in any setting, from a high-level academy laboratory to the creative amateur.
This ultra-high-speed, CCD-based spectroradiometer was built to be customized to any LED measurement device. For an easily portable instrument to achieve measurement accuracy that professional researchers could have confidence in is a feat in itself. But, we wanted the OL 770 to be versatile too, and it comes with an array of applications and accessories.

It’s almost unheard of for a spectroradiometer system to be this affordable and still this capable, but at Gooch & Housego, we like pushing the edge of innovation. The OL 770 sets up quickly, features Windows-compatible software, and has user-friendly diagnostic techniques. All of this makes it a gold standard in calibration technologies. Some of the more specific specifications include:

  • Low stray light performance
  • Excellent wavelength accuracy
  • High spectral resolution
  • 25+ spectral scans per second
  • High dynamic range

These are just a few of the many specifications of the OL 770. Accessories include everything from integrating spheres and reflectance and transmittance to a wide variety LED holders, slits, probes, and lenses (all sold separately). This all adds up to give the OL 770 incredible range and resourcefulness. Just a partial list of some of the LED calibration and measurement work possible with the device would include:

  • Diffuse LED components
  • Traffic signals made of a wide array of LED settings
  • Motion-based LED systems
  • LED signs and billboards
  • LED systems based on reliability of use and long-term modification

For world-class measurement capabilities at a value and user-friendly design, contact us today at 407-422-3171 or toll free at 800-899-3171 for more information. Also, feel free to email us at orlandosales@goochandhousego.com. We offer the best in LED calibration and light measurement standards on the market, made for and by professionals.

Tempocode Masks Images to Human Eye

Our eyes are evolutionary marvels, so sophisticated that even modern technology has been unable to replicate how they work. But even with its incredible abilities, there are some things the human eye can miss. Technologies with high-end imaging capabilities are becoming more widely used for their abilities to capture detail. Some have even shown the ability to hide reality right before our eyes, and we can now make cameras so precise that they can see these very images hidden to the human eye.

Researchers at the Ecole École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) developed a camera that, due to the amount of exposure time it was allowed, can see images that last longer than 40 milliseconds. This is something the eye, for all its capabilities, cannot do.

From here, the team at EPFL created a technique called temporal masking; essentially it’s the art of making an image into a video over time. Using careful techniques, they can then tweak the video/image hybrid so that certain things cannot be viewed, at least by our eyes. Here’s how Sami Arpa, part of the team at EPFL, tried to relate the method they used for obscuring images in video:

“You have two pieces of information – red and green colors – but when the human eye sees them over time, it stops detecting two colors and just picks up yellow.” Only a high-tech camera can keep the two pieces of information distinct.

The resulting video made from the technique of infusing images with unique capabilities was termed Tempocode. But where this technology goes, and how it can be used, is still the matter of some debate. What is certain for now is that this was a breakthrough technology and creative engineering at its finest.

Ideas in the realm of visual science, such as Tempocode, require very strict photometric standards. Being off in code or resolution, even in the slightest degree, can disrupt whatever revolutionary concept researchers are trying to create. These standards require the ability to do strict lab testing only possible for trained professionals and high-functioning instruments. Continue to read our blog for more photonics news.

May Foldable Touchscreens be in the Future?

The screens are everywhere: on your nightstand when you wake up, mounted on the wall at your local diner, and, probably, on your desk when you arrive at work. We live in the age of screens. But could the future bring something radically different? With the help of careful display test and measurement instruments, foldable touchscreens may shape our interactive world.

This concept is thanks to a next generation sensor created by a team at the University of British Columbia (UBC). At it’s core, the sensor is similar to those on many modern phones and devices, but due to a special conductive gel layered between silicon, it can better differentiate and detect types of touching. This, in theory, could allow a device with this type of screen technology to be bent, stretched, and even folded. The portably and array of places a screen could contort into has the potential to expand because of this technique.

One of the bonuses of the system that the team at UBC created was its simplicity; using common materials, and only when needed, the group created screens that can be made widely and cheaply. One of the researchers on the project, Ph.D student Mirza Saquib Sarwar, said this regarding the potential: “It’s entirely possible to make a room-sized version of this sensor for just dollars per square meter and then put sensors on the wall, on the floor, or over the surface of the body — almost anything that requires a transparent, stretchable touchscreen.”

With this in mind, the areas by which useable and malleable screens could be deployed feels fairly limitless. Healthcare facilities could find uses, as could entertainment conglomerates. John Madden, a professor at UBC, explained that one of the limits of modern robotics is that machines have a poor sense of our touch; essentially, they cannot currently be relied upon to safely interact with their surroundings due to this lack of feel. But, using this screen technology on a vast scale, similar in dimension to what Sarwar described, could lead to new, cutting-edge uses of highly-integrated computer technologies.

The screens of the future will rely on display test and measurement instruments and the most optimum of screen-based materials. Folding screens may seem exotic to the mind now, but there is a foreseeable future where they may be the norm, and the team at the University of British Columbia is on the cutting edge of it, as is Gooch & Housego. Contact us today at 407-422-3171 for more information on our photonics technology.

The Impact of Light Scattering Spectroscopy in the Medical Field

The field of medicine has been aided and improved through the use of versatile lighting technology. But now, the general impact that light scattering spectroscopy could yield in the world of cancer treatment is becoming more apparent, specifically, in this example, regarding the treatment and diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. As a new technique being pioneered by the Center for Advanced Biomedical Imaging and Photonics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston becomes more well-known, the hope is that light scattering spectroscopy can raise the survival rate amongst patients. Lighting measurement instrumentation is but one facet of this varied medical technology.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most dangerous forms of the disease, mainly because it is very difficult to catch early without invasive techniques. Lev T. Perelman, Ph.D., is the leader of the team that created an impressive instrument said to be capable of detecting the difference between pancreatic cysts and malignant tumors with a 95% accuracy. The findings were first announced this March in Nature Biomedical Engineering. Non-invasive accuracy readings on this magnitude would be a huge leap forward for the entire field.

The light scattering spectroscope (LSS) has the ability to distinguish between cysts and cancerous tumors by bouncing light off tissues and taking a look at the feedback this ray shows on the spectrum. Currently, although MRIs and CT scans can detect pancreatic cysts, the only way to find out if they are indeed cancerous is through surgery to collect a piece of the pancreatic tissue. There is a system called cytology, which is the only actual pre-operative technique, but it is successful 58% of the time. This isn’t an accurate enough rate to make a call of the presence of cancer cells.
As noted, if the LSS can get detection up to 95% or higher, surgery to determine cancer risk on cysts would be much rarer, an obvious positive result for the patient. Dr. Perelman put the need for such a revolutionary light-based tool thusly:

  • “Considering the high risk of pancreatic surgeries and the even higher mortality from untreated pancreatic cancers, there’s an obvious need for new diagnostic methods to accurately identify the pancreatic cysts that need surgical intervention and those that do not.”

New innovations based on lighting measurement instrumentation continue to impress the medical field. The hope for patients of the future is a world where diagnostic abilities for diseases can be done easily and without harm; in such a world, treatment would be much more likely to be successful and cancer more likely to be diagnosed in its earlier, more treatable, stages. Tools like the LSS are vanguard technologies, the type we look forward to seeing more from in the future.

Product Spotlight: OL 750 Automated Spectroradiometric Measurement System

First and foremost, photometric capabilities require precision. Gooch & Housego has created the finest in instrumentation in the OL 750 Automated Spectroradiometric Measurement System. State-of-the-art and intuitively designed, this spectroradiometer is at the vanguard of light instrument technologies. We consider it to be one of the most versatile systems of its kind currently on the marketplace, and we offer two versions: a single (OL 750S) and double (OL 750D) grating monochromator. Either way, the OL 750 has the capability to make accurate and easily-readable measurements throughout the 200 nm to 30 mm wavelength range.

Our system offers both technically stunning capabilities and extremely user-friendly techniques. It runs on Windows® operating software and functions completely dependent from manual inputs.

The types of spectroradiometer measurements possible from the OL 750 system are wide. This is merely a slight listing of all the possible light varieties available to test:

  • Arc Lamps
  • Laser diodes
  • Star simulators
  • LEDs
  • Flash and tungsten lamps
  • Solar radiation
  • Pulsed sources
  • Growth chambers
  • Sphere and low-level light sources

Our ability to add accessories to the basic format of the OL 750 also helps the systems flexibility tremendously. When configured with a goniospectroreflectance attachment (also available from Gooch & Housego Orlando), the OL 750 can measure specular reflectance on objects like lenses, automotive windshields, building materials, and screen surfaces such as computers monitors or televisions. Put simply, the unit is truly indispensable for those needing an array of light wave testing qualifications.
Some technical specifications of the double monochromator specification are impressive and include (in brief):

  • A wavelength range between 0.20 – 30 µm
  • Focal length at an impressive 254 nm (f/4)
  • Chopper rate is programmable, but 10 – 500 Hz basic
  • Configurable to many applications
  • Variety of accessories available

 

Finally, beyond the impressive technical specs, the OL 750 Spectroradiometer was designed for ease of use; whether you are operating a sophisticated, world-class laboratory or a smaller, more confined business. Features such as one-button access, easy-to-use wizards for software setup, data protection, and an intuitive interface for file viewing and storage give this system a very small learning curve with very impressive precision. For more information on getting one for your laboratory, contact us anytime at 407-422-3171 or orlandosales@goochandhousego.com.