Avantes designs for portable and handheld application design
Avantes Inc. was granted funding in 2017 from State of Colorado 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 developed a program that melded Avantes optical instruments with software development for embedded systems and machines.
That internship kicked off a new phase of development at Avantes US with the birth of the AvaPortability project that has extended to partnerships with miniature laser experts, beginning to expand the DLL kit and sample program libraries to include Linux, the prototyping of a variety of application specific accessories, and other initiatives that aim to support the design of handheld and/or portable spectroscopy systems.
The Internship that Started it All
The 2017 Internship 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.
The project delivered a proof of concept design using Avantes optical instruments and commercially available peripheral components. The QT creator environment 4.0. using the existing Linux-based dynamic linking library provides communication with the AvaSpec-Mini2048 compact spectrometer and the small form-factor AvaLight-XE Mini pulsed xenon flash lamp light source. The flexibility of the Raspberry Pi 3B embedded system was paired with a 7-inch touchscreen display to create the mobile user interface. Off-the-shelf battery packs provide power within the prototype housing which has a standard 10 mm cuvette slot for convenient and rapid acquisition of spectral absorbance/ transmission measurements.
One of the most popular commercially available user interfaces on the market today is the Raspberry Pi kit. These low-cost and versatile open-source systems offer ample computing power, low power consumption, and compact size. They are relatively easy to program and have a huge user-community and resources available.
In 2018, the AvaPortability project recognized the value of developing a Raspbian DLL interface. The Raspbian SDK includes some sample programs, also under development. These resources are not by any means comprehensive but offer tools and resources to instrument design engineers and software application developers.
Future engineering internships planned for 2021 and beyond are planned to expand the capability of sample programs so stay tuned for more details.
The potential strategic advantages for the development of handheld LIBS systems are enormous, but designing a system requires both the compact spectrometer, and an equally compact laser. Avantes partnered with Lumibird to integrate the onboard AvaSpec-Mini4096CL 4096-pixel CMOS spectrometer and Ultra-compact diode-pumped Nd;YAG pulsed 1.57 µm excitation laser with a footprint small enough for handheld LIBS devices.
The development of this system was the subject of a webinar in 2020. Speak with an Avantes Engineer about a demo of the portable test system to conduct your own in-house feasibility study.
One of our strengths at Avantes is the flexibility of our modular design that leverages fiber optics when standoff measurements are required. This flexibility extends to software interfaces solutions that allow user developers to take control of their applications. Multi-channel capabilities increase flexibility without sacrificing system performance.
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