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New compact microspectrometer design achieves high resolution and wide bandwidth

A new microspectrometer architecture that uses compact disc-shaped resonators could address the challenges of integrated lab-on-chip sensing systems that now require a large off-chip spectrometer to achieve high resolution.

Spectrometers have conventionally been expensive and bulky bench-top instruments used to detect and identify the molecules inside a sample by shining light on it and measuring different wavelengths of the emitted or absorbed light. Previous efforts toward miniaturizing spectrometers have reduced their size and cost, but these reductions have typically resulted in lower-resolution instruments.

"For spectrometers, it is better to be small and cheap than big and bulky -- provided that the optical performance targets are met," said Ali Adibi, a professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "We were able to achieve high resolution and wide bandwidth with a compact single-mode on-chip spectrometer through the use of an array of microdonut resonators, each with an outer radius of two microns."

The 81-channel on-chip spectrometer designed by Georgia Tech engineers achieved 0.6-nanometer resolution over a spectral range of more than 50 nanometers with a footprint less than one square millimeter. The simple instrument -- with its ultra-small footprint -- can be integrated with other devices, including sensors, optoelectronics, microelectronics and microfluidic channels for use in biological, chemical, medical and pharmaceutical applications.

The microspectrometer architecture was described in a paper published on June 20 in the journal Optics Express. The research was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

"This architecture is promising because the quality-factor of the microdonut resonators is higher than that of microrings of the same size," said Richard Soref, a rese

Contact: Abby Robinson
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News

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