Scott Smyser, Si-Ware Systems Abstract

Title: MEMS Spectral Sensors Enabling New Applications for Material Analysis

Abstract:  Material analysis is used across a wide spectrum of industries. Traditionally material analysis has been done in a lab with bench top spectrometers. With advancements in MEMS technology, discrete optical benches have now been put on silicon die. A Michelson interferometer is the basis for an FT-IR spectrometer, a standard and widely used form of spectroscopy. A Michelson interferometer has been produced on a MEMS die creating an FT-IR spectrometer module that is dramatically smaller and lower cost. With the main optical components on a MEMS die, a spectrometer is now highly integrated, scalable, and reliable. What was once a bench top device is now a sensor, a spectral sensor. A small size and low cost MEMS spectral sensor enables new applications for material analysis that can occur in the field and inline, and by users who do not have to be specialists (spectroscopists). In agriculture, a handheld analyzer for farmers to do soil analysis is enabling real-time, in the field measurements of soil. In the oil and gas industry, a portable analyzer for oil refineries enables online measurements. The medical industry is also benefiting with a smart toilet that uses spectroscopy to do real-time urinalysis. Further size and cost reduction will enable applications in the consumer market. A chip scale spectral sensor can enable applications in consumer electronic devices for food, drug testing, and more. Wearables can benefit from a chip scale spectral sensor for noninvasive biochemistry measurements, including glucose and alcohol. One can compare a MEMS spectral sensor to the first MEMS accelerometers and gyros that were small enough and low cost enough to be designed into consumer devices. Once this happened, new use cases and application development ensued increasing the volume for these sensors. A MEMS spectral sensor that is small enough and low cost enough will enable unthought of use cases and applications for material analysis.