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 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.
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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.