Fraunhofer-Institut für Photonische Mikrosysteme IPMS
Maria-Reiche-Str. 2
01109 Dresden (Deutschland)
Tel: +49 351 8823-0
Fax: +49 351 8823-266

Mitaussteller von Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V. Zentralverwaltung

Spektroskopie – Lebensmitteldetektiv im Miniaturformat

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Bruised apples, and expired yogurts: all too often these foods end up in the trash. In Germany alone, every citizen throws away on average 85 kilograms of food every year. This is damaging to the environment and the climate, as
resources like water, energy and agricultural land are used to produce every type of food. Fraunhofer IPMS is
working on a miniaturized spectrometer, which can help to improve food handling. The microspectrometer
is capable of determining the composition, ripeness and quality of foods. Furthermore, near-infrared analysis provides
predictions on the degree of acidity and sugar content as well as information about whether the apple already has
a bruise that will only become visible as a brown part the following day. In this way, the microspectrometer contributes
to ensuring that food is consumed in a timely manner
and does not end up in the trash. In the meantime, research at Fraunhofer IPMS has succeeded in miniaturizing the developed spectrometer, so that it could be installed in smartphones. At just 0.6 cm³, i.e. around a fifth of the size of a standard sugar cube, the grating spectrometer is therefore currently one of the smallest near-infrared spectrometers in the world. Due to its compact
assembly, light weight of less than a gram and low power consumption in the mW range, it is ideally suited for integration into mobile analysis devices. In its current form, it covers an NIR spectral range from 950 to 1900 nm with a spectral resolution of 10 nm.

Its operating principle is based on absorbing infrared radiation, which is not visible to the human eye. This penetrates deep into organic materials, such as food, and provides information on the chemical composition of the
examined object. As a result, information can be obtained on important characteristics, such as the ripeness or freshness
of fruit and vegetables, the water content in meat and the alcohol content of beer, wines and spirits. Further fields of application include, for example, analysis of the quality and authenticity of cosmetic products, drugs and textiles.
The near-infrared spectrometer can also be deployed to produce benefits for food production. This means that, in
agriculture, the nutritional requirements of soil can be determined using this technology. In this way, the soil can
be optimally fertilized in a manner that takes care of the environment, and fertilizer use can be managed efficiently.
Beyond that, miniaturized spectrometer systems from Fraunhofer IPMS are ideally suited for mobile use in the fields of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medicine as well as in the area of environmental protection and recycling.

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