Research Foundation News

November 12, 2020

Pearls may provide new information processing options for biomedical, military innovations

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Pearls have long been favored as objects of beauty. Now, Purdue University innovators are using the gem to provide potential new opportunities for spectral information processing that can be applied to spectroscopy in biomedical and military applications.

The Purdue team demonstrated light transport-assisted information processing by creating a pearl spectrometer.

Spectrometers probe interactions of matter and light as a function of the electromagnetic spectrum and are commonly used in biomedical and military applications. For example, they have been used for diagnostics of various types of cancer and for military gas sensing. 

“Unfortunately, widespread uses and practical adaptions of spectroscopy are often limited due to the need of conventional spectrometers,” said Young Kim, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Purdue. “The current spectrometers rely on complex device assembly, high-precision alignment and large physical size or dimension, all of which prevent rapid translation into practical applications.”

The work, which was funded by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, is published in Nano Letters.

“We discovered that pearls are an ideal natural object for Anderson localization of light, named after Nobel laureate Philip Anderson, whose concept has been extended to describe how light undergoes on and off resonances inside materials due to their strong scattering,” Kim said.

Yunsang Kwak, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab at Purdue, said, “Anderson light localization offers high randomness that is extremely helpful for compressive sensing, in particular to conduct information processing  with a thin and plat form factor, by simply attaching a pearl-like multispectral filter array on a conventional camera.”

Kim said, “We do not think that the direct use of a pearl would be a good option for mass production of multispectral filter arrays. Instead, pearls teach us how to design disordered nanostructures of Anderson light localization to develop a new class of spectral information processing machine.”

The Purdue researchers are looking to their new discovery to provide scientists with an idea of hybridizing material and digital properties, which could be useful for innovations in biomedical and defense applications.

The innovators worked with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization to file a patent application for this technology.

The researchers are looking for partners to continue developing their technology. For more information on licensing and other opportunities, contact D.H.R. Sarma of OTC at DHRSarma@prf.org and mention track code 2021-KIM-69261.

About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities through commercializing, licensing and protecting Purdue intellectual property. The office recently moved into the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue campus. In fiscal year 2020, the office reported 148 deals finalized with 225 technologies signed, 408 disclosures received and 180 issued U.S. patents. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. In 2020, IPWatchdog Institute ranked Purdue third nationally in startup creation and in the top 20 for patents. The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Contact otcip@prf.org for more information.      

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at purdue.edu.

Writer: Chris Adam, cladam@prf.org 

Source:
Young Kim, youngkim@purdue.edu


ABSTRACT

A pearl spectrometer 

Yunsang Kwak, Sang Mok Park, Zahyun Ku, Augustine M. Urbas and Young L. Kim

Information recovery from incomplete measurements, typically performed by a numerical means, is beneficial in a variety of classical and quantum signal processing. Random and sparse sampling with nanophotonic and  light scattering approaches has received attention to overcome the hardware limitations of conventional spectrometers and hyperspectral imagers, but require high-precision nanofabrications and bulky media. We report a simple spectral information processing scheme in which light transport through an Anderson-localized medium serves as an entropy source for compressive sampling directly in the frequency domain. As implied by the ‘lustrous’ reflection originating from the exquisite multilayered nanostructures, a pearl (or mother-of-pearl) allows us to exploit the spatial and spectral intensity fluctuations originating from strong light localization for extracting salient spectral information with a compact and thin form factor. Pearl-inspired light localization in low dimensional structures can offer an alternative of spectral information processing by hybridizing digital and physical properties at a material level.


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