Avantes Inc. was granted funding from the Colorado Photonics Industry (CPIA) to develop an internship program to introduce one STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) undergraduate student to the photonics industry. Avantes took an interdisciplinary approach and sought a student with a background in software development for embedded systems and machines.

After interviewing many talented candidates, the internship was awarded to Valerie Lesser, a University of Colorado Boulder undergrad with a bright future in aerospace engineering. Valerie’s previous experience included an internship with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) High Altitude Observatory (HAO) working on the design of control systems for the high-altitude scientific balloon system, SUNRISE gondola.

Project Design

Ms Lesser’s summer project at Avantes was to facilitate the development of a mobile microprocessor-based device for absorption spectroscopy field measurements. The goal was to demonstrate the application development capabilities and portability of the Avantes platform using the Avantes Linux-based dynamic linking library.

A Portable Spectroscopy Solution

The system was designed using Avantes optical instruments and commercially available peripheral components. The flexibility of the Raspberry Pi 3B embedded system was paired with a 7-inch touchscreen display to create the mobile user interface. The QT creator environment 4.0. using the existing Lenox-based dynamic linking library provides communication with the AvaSpec-Mini2048 compact spectrometer and small form-factor AvaLight-XE Mini pulsed xenon flash lamp light source. Off-the-shelf USB battery packs provide power within the prototype housing which has a standard 10mm cuvette slot for convenient and rapid acquisition of spectral absorbance/ transmission measurements.

Proof of Concept

The portable system programmed and designed as part of the portability project demonstrates the potential for standalone turnkey spectroscopy solutions based on Avantes optical instruments that run without a laptop or wall outlet. Expect to see this embedded spectrometer system on display at SPIE Photonics West 2018.