Tiny sensor developed to analyse crop quality

A miniature sensor capable of analysing crop quality and even the freshness of fruit and vegetables on supermarket shelves could soon be made available after a licensing deal between the University of Western Australia (UWA) and microelectromechanical systems manufacturer Panorama Synergy, both based in Perth.

UWA's Microelectronics Research Group has spent 10 years developing a spectrometer sensor potentially small enough to fit into a smartphone. Head of the group Professor Lorenzo Faraone explained that although infrared spectroscopy is already used in the grain industry to determine the quality and value of crops, this currently requires expensive laboratory-grade instruments.

"That is set to change with the UWA Microspectrometer," he said. "It is manufactured using cleanroom processes developed for the electronics industry and hence can be mass produced at very low cost, taking spectroscopy into the hands of consumers and commercial users for field-portable applications. It could also be used in drones to identify water around crops and for a multitude of other innovative applications."

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