These days, cell phones are capable of performing so many different functions. However, they are as yet unable to determine the alcoholic content of drinks or the ripeness of fruit. The reason being that modern spectrometers are simply too large to be integrated in cell phones. Generally, the devices “weigh several kilograms”, as explained in a press release issued by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH).
Researchers at ETH have now developed a compact infrared spectrometer based on a chip measuring just two square centimeters in size. The new mini spectrometer features additional advantages other than its compact design. For example, it must only be calibrated once, whereas conventional devices require re-calibration time and again. The new device also requires less maintenance.
Originally, the researchers did not have chemical analysis in mind when developing the mini spectrometer. They actually wanted to develop an infrared spectrometer for use in astronomy that could provide valuable information about distant celestial objects. This kind of infrared spectrometer could be positioned on satellites in outer space. Here, too, the weight of the device plays a key role, as more lightweight devices can be more easily launched into space.