New super continuum laser source for NIR

A collaboration between Danish universities and technology companies, namely Aarhus University iNANO/chemistry, Copenhagen University, DTU Photonic, Foss Analytical and NKT Photonics A/S, is working on a project to look at how a new, much brighter form of infrared light can be used for routine analysis in food and feed production.

They aim to develop a platform of analytical solutions based on bright and broad infrared (IR) light sources and apply it to optimisation of sustainable food production, both in the field and in the factory and thereby contribute to increased food quality. It is hoped that through sensitive real-time measurements of quality parameters, the instrument will outperform existing technologies and reshape key industrial processes.

The project aims at:

  1. Developing NIR and mid-IR super continuum sources for food analysis
  2. Integrating IR sources in analytical instruments and optimising sensitivity using chemometrics
  3. Demonstrating novel analysis methods that are not possible with today’s technology, useful, for example, for resolving information buried in water absorption bands to enable molecular profiling
  4. Utilising mid-IR analytical instruments to perform in-line analysis of milk quality
  5. Realising a functional NIR instrument for precision farming using stand-off diffuse reflectance measurement of plants and/or soil

Spectroscopy of foods using conventional thermal IR light sources is a mature and well-established technique with a world-wide market presence. Consequently, it is not enough to improve or refine. In order to break into this segment, new technology must provide a significant leap forward and enable new and better ways of monitoring food.

The Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation has awarded the Pasteur Award 2012 for best project leader of the year to Lasse Leick from NKT Photonics, for leading the project involving a team of researchers from DTU Fotonik, Århus University and NKT Photonics.

Project partners:

Aarhus University (Professor Søren Rud Keiding; coordinator)
University of Copenhagen (Professor Søren Balling Engelsen)
Foss analytical A/S (Dr Thomas Nikolajsen)
The Technical University of Denmark (Professor Ole Bang)
NKT Photonics A/S, (Dr Lasse Heick)

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