Microspectrometer and spectral sensor markets are the fastest growing market areas of spectroscopy. The trend is clear towards smaller and less expensive sensors, which will open completely new markets in NIR spectroscopy-based material sensing. The sensor market is 50-100 times bigger than the analyzer market, so there is a clear business opportunity to develop new innovative products for future material sensing applications.
Spectral Engines, as a pioneering company of spectral sensors, launched the new NIRONETM-series last year. Years of development culminated to the release of the world’s most intelligent and smallest spectral sensor, with a goal of making material sensing easy and available for everyone.
Now we would like to share with you the things that make NIRONE Sensors so unique and why they are the exact right choice for everyone dreaming about their own material sensing application.
We’ve compiled a list of the NIRONE Sensor’s top 5 key features and their benefits, showing the versatility and niftiness of our product. Whatever your material sensing application might be, NIRONE Sensor is the right fit for you and your project.
Size is an important factor when integrating spectral sensors into industrial applications such as production lines and consumer products. Today, many NIR measurement technologies are far too big to be used in practical sensors. Our NIRONE Sensor is an optimal solution for devices where small size is required.Weighing only 15 g and being just the size of a cubic inch, NIRONETM Sensor is one of the world’s smallest NIR sensors. This size has been enabled by MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical System) technology. The small size helps especially when designing personalized, quirky-shaped portable material sensing products or process applications.
In the past, the use of NIR spectroscopy has been expensive due to the large size of the devices. The fact that the use of spectrometers has been limited mainly to laboratory environments has raised the prices even higher, to tens of thousands of euros. These technologies are nowhere near to being used in high-volume professional or consumer applications. Nowadays there is a clear need for low-cost material sensors. This requires new manufacturing technologies, such as MEMS.NIRONE Sensors are based on a single photodetector which makes them a lot of cheaper than traditional linear array spectrometers. As the NIRONE Sensor can also be mass produced by using modern MEMS processing lines, it is significantly cheaper than its bigger and more expensive alternatives. It can be produced in a smaller scale as well, which won’t affect the price in any way, but enables to scale volumes up whenever it is needed. In small quantities NIRONE Sensors are typically ten times cheaper than the competing products - the difference is even bigger in higher volumes. Our future development work aims to bring down the price even more – making the NIRONE Sensor a perfect choice for consumer products as well.
Many low-cost spectrometers are operating only up to a spectral range of 1100 nm. Our sensors work at the true NIR spectral range of 1350 to 2150 nm, which means better sensitivity and specificity in many material sensing applications. The single detector collects light far more efficiently compared to commonly used linear array technology, and this means high optical throughput. This enables a very high SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio) and the sensor is highly sensitive even to the smallest concentrations. The SNR’s of NIRONE Sensors are typically 2-3 times higher than in more expensive TEC-cooled spectrometers.In addition, the NIRONE Sensor is not just a component but a fully functional, programmable spectral sensor. This enables the optimization of the sensor’s performance depending on application requirements.
- Durability & robustness
One big challenge of spectral sensors has been their sensitivity to disturbances in industrial or field inspection applications. Harsh industrial measurements set special requirements for sensor robustness and can cause high development costs if the technology is not suitable for use in these environments. Typically, the problems are related to temperature variations, vibration or mechanical shocks, many of which exist in industrial or agricultural settings.The NIRONE Sensor can be used in extremely challenging environments, as it does not include any moving parts. The sensors use a patented MEMS Fabry-Perot Interferometer, which enables fast and reliable measurements even in the most demanding applications. It has been estimated that a MEMS sensor can last more than 10 years, and the estimated life time of its light source is more than 40’000 hours. NIRONE Sensors have been tested in extreme temperature conditions, and they’ve gone also through vibration and dropping tests successfully.The durability makes the sensor ideal for portable material sensing devices used in challenging environments, such as farms and on-field measurements. NIRONE Sensors are stable and endure even big changes in temperature – making them a perfect fit for outdoor material sensing applications.
Spectral Engines has paid special attention to the modularity of the NIRONE Sensor. It is very important that as an OEM-sensor it is easy-to-evaluate, but also easy-to-integrate in various material sensing devices. The NIRONE Sensor consists of integrated light sources, various options for front optics, high performance electronics and a hermetically sealed MEMS sensor. The NIRONE Sensor combines all of its numerous high-tech features into a compact module, which makes it easy to fit in all kinds of designs. We have taken care of the easy integration of optics, mechanics, electronics and software. This significantly reduces the development cost and time of our customers.
The NIRONE Sensor can easily be adapted to your measurement needs with suitable front optics whether you prefer reflection or fiber measurement set-up. For optical connections we can provide you with options for direct contact reflectance measurements, a fiber-connected SMA-adapter or a special TubeOptics with an averaging bigger spot size if needed in moving sample measurements. A single electrical connector makes the sensor easy to integrate into your own electronics, whenever and wherever needed. The sensor is equipped with standard interfaces and an I2C/UART connection. For software development, Spectral Engines offers a comprehensive SDK package, which makes it easy to start your own software development with the NIRONE Sensors.
Would you like to know more about the technology behind the NIRONE Sensor?
Please feel free to contact us, if you’d like to get a quote for NIRONETM Evaluation Kit.