Innovation That Matters

The new LED technology has a range of potential benefits, from firefighting to mining, the military and even households. | Photo source Jeremy Bezanger, Unsplash

Making smart devices even smarter

Computing & Tech

Researchers have developed a way to make “tuneable” infrared spectrometers cheap enough to use in consumer electronics

Register for full access

Our library content is no longer freely available. Please register to gain access to more than 12,000 innovations, updated daily. Our content is global in scope and covers solutions to the world's biggest challenges across 18 sectors.

Spotted: Infrared (IR) spectrometers are a common piece of laboratory equipment used to identify different materials, using gas samples, by analysing their infrared signatures. This is a very useful piece of kit, but it is also far too expensive for commercial use. This is largely because the materials used to make the IR photodetectors are difficult to manufacture, as they require multiple layers of perfectly linked crystals. Now, researchers at the University of Melbourne have developed a way to make IR much cheaper. 

The researchers, together with teams at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Transformative Meta-Optical Systems, have developed a tuneable infrared LED that allows the detection of multiple materials. The technology bonds a thin layer of black phosphorus crystals to a flexible substrate. Bending the substrate in different ways causes the black phosphorus to emit light of different wavelengths. 

The new spectrometer is not only relatively cheap to manufacture, but it is also very thin and lightweight. The researchers envision it placed on drones and used to identify potentially lethal gases in fires and mines. Because bacteria in food give off gases as they multiply, the device could also be incorporated into refrigerators, for example, to detect when meat or other food has begun to spoil. 

And the potential uses for the technology do not stop there. University of Melbourne Professor Kenneth Crozier has pointed out that “This technology could fit inside smartphones and become part of everyday use. Our IR photo detectors could be integrated into a camera so that we could look at our phone screen and ‘see’ gas leaks or emissions and be able to determine what kind of gas it is.” 

At Springwise, we have seen a host of new technology for detecting leaks, inefficiencies and damage in a non-invasive manner. Innovations have included using bacteria in concrete to flag up potential structural damage and the use of AI vision tech to flag up inefficient construction processes. 

Written By: Lisa Magloff

Explore more: Work and Lifestyle



Download PDF

Springwise Services:
Our expertise in spotting the latest innovations is the best resource to empower your team’s future planning.

Find out More