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Si-Ware ramps tiny FTIR module

08 Mar 2016

MEMS-based spectrometer 'engine' that won a Prism Award back in 2014 is moving to volume production.

Si-Ware Systems, the Egyptian developer of highly miniaturized optical devices for infrared analysis, is ramping production of its MEMS-based “NeoSpectra” modules to volume levels.

In an announcement timed to coincide with this week’s Pittcon trade show, which is focused on analytical equipment, the Cairo-based firm said that its phone-sized Fourier Transform infrared (FTIR) sensor modules were finding applications in the oil and gas, pharmaceutical, and food production industries.

Specifically, fabless Si-Ware is ramping production of the sensor “engine” with its foundry partner, targeting OEM customers who are looking to develop mobile spectrometer devices for instant analysis.

Built around micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) components made using high-volume semiconductor fabrication techniques, the NeoSpectra modules are available in three different configurations, according to the specific wavelength range required.

The first generation of the low-power sensors operate in the near infra-red (NIR) spectral range between 1,150 nm and 2,500 nm. While several companies – for example major player Hamamatsu Photonics and Finland’s Spectral Engines – have developed miniature photonic sensors – Si-Ware says that its technology is constructed from permanently aligned, highly reproducible components.

Bassam Saadany, optical MEMS division manager at the company, said: “Over the last few decades, we have witnessed how high-volume semiconductor technologies including MEMS have played a disruptive role in many industries. We believe that NeoSpectra ignites this disruption in the spectroscopy arena.”

Prism Award winner
An earlier version of the NeoSpectra sensor technology won a Prism Award at the SPIE Photonics West event in 2014. Now, it is being designed into analytical products aimed at a range of industries including agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and petrochemicals, says the firm.

It added: “The small size and low cost of the module is sparking development of innovative hand-held measurement tools that were not previously possible due to size and cost constraints. NeoSpectra delivers added revenue potential to developers by enabling non-specialist professionals – from farmers to pharmacists – to conduct material analysis onsite rather than sending samples to a lab.”

Scott Smyser, VP of marketing and business development at the company, said: “We are amazed by the innovative applications that our developer customers continue to bring us that capitalize on the small footprint and scalability of NeoSpectra sensors.

“These developers combine the legacy of conventional NIR spectroscopy analysis methodologies with new features enabled by NeoSpectra to deploy never-seen instruments that can be used by non-experts. We foresee the day in the near future where spectroscopy becomes an essential part of our daily activities.”

The first of the production-level NeoSpectra sensors to become available is the SWS62221, with evaluation and development kits, as well as production units for high volumes, available from Si-Ware now.

The company, whose investors include the Taqnia group that is backed by the Saudi Arabian public investment fund, has two main businesses - one focused on optical MEMS technology and another specializing in analog/mixed-signal and RF application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs).

Co-founder Saadany was previously design manager of the optical MEMS group at Paris-headquartered MEMScAP, before helping to start up Si-Ware with CEO Hisham Haddara and ASIC engineering specialist Ayman Ahmed.

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