Date Announced: 25 Jul 2016
Latest developments from IRsweep AG suggest that their much anticipated infrared laser spectrometer known as IRspectrometer, offers an unmatched combination of speed, bandwidth and resolution. Add to the list, it’s a high brightness laser spectrometer which will open up new application spaces which have not been accessible before.
The company is to launch its first spectrometer towards the end of 2016. Very excited about the current developments in the company and their product, we spoke with the company co-founders about their product, the technology used and the vision for the IRspectrometer.
A few questions with regards to the IRspectrometer that this article will answer are: What is the the USP for IRspectrometer ? What is the technology that the IRspectrometer is based on? Why should one choose the IRspectrometer over its competitors?
IRspectrometer: Dual comb Spectrometer
The IRsweep QCL frequency comb spectrometer is the first system to provide the advantages of dual-comb spectroscopy in a complete turn-key instrument: Microsecond time resolution combined with large spectral bandwidth and high spectral resolution offer new possibilities in the investigation of fast processes, or for high throughput applications and in applications which need high selectivity and high sensitivity simultaneously.
The instrument works in the mid-infrared spectral region, ranging from approximately 2500 cm-1 (4 µm) to 800 cm-1 (12 µm). It hosts many fundamental ro-vibrational resonances of molecules and functional groups, making it the prime region of interest for optical spectroscopy.
Applications for the IRspectrometer
The applications for the IRspectrometer are very exciting. The unique combination of high speed and high spectral resolution offers new possibilities for vibrational spectroscopy in research or in industrial applications. One example is the observation of protein folding, which is important for understanding diseases like Alzheimer. Industrial process analysis can also benefit from the high selectivity and time resolution reducing response time and increasing throughput, adding to this: multiple substances can be identified simultaneously – even when masked by a complex background matrix.
Typical current solutions in these fields include chromatographic techniques, which are inherently slow and consumable-intense. Also optical methods are already widely used, but the current solutions either lack speed, brightness (e.g. the FT-IR) or bandwidth (narrow band laser systems). Among the laser based broadband solutions, the QCL frequency combs are the most compact and robust approach.
Technology for the IRspectrometer
Frequency combs are lasers emitting many wavelengths at the same time, covering a broad spectral range of tens to a few 100 wavenumbers. Their spectrum consists of very sharp, equally spaced lines. The exact equal spacing of the comb lines allows for the spectral resolution. The device operates in the mid-IR range where the strongest molecular absorption lines are located.
So far, IR-frequency combs have been bulky, power-hungry systems, preventing them from spreading into a wide range of industrial and research applications. Instead, QCL frequency combs are very compact semiconductor devices, which are only a few mm long and electrically pumped. The IRspectrometer will make the advantages of such systems available to a wide range of applications for the first time.
When the frequency comb interacts with the sample substance, some colors of the laser are absorbed and the intensity of the transmitted light contains the necessary information to define the type and concentration of chemical species contained in the sample. Acquisition of the spectrum is performed by heterodyning with a second frequency comb. Thereby, all wavelengths are detected simultaneously with no moving parts required.
It is our vision to make fast, selective and broadband laser spectroscopy available for a large range of applications to improve the current optical analytics and also make optical methods available to people which have been limited to other methods before.
Founded in 2014, based in Zürich, Switzerland, the ETH Zurich spin-off company offers cutting edge optical sensing solutions based on semiconductor quantum cascade laser frequency combs in the mid-infrared spectral range.
Web Site: https://www.irsweep.com/