Saturday, December 27, 2014

Hamamatsu Predicts Rise of Consumer Spectrometers

Hamamatsu announces C12666MA, a new compact and cost-effective spectrometer for consumer applications:

The company says: "There is a trade-off relation between the spectrometer size and performance characteristics. As the size becomes smaller, the resolution deteriorates and the performance also declines. Our microspectrometer employs a method that diffracts the light after internally reflecting it one time, and is designed to exhibit the highest possible performance that achieves both satisfactory size and performance characteristics in this type of spectrometer."

"a further step forward was needed in both size and price in order to have them accepted for widespread use in the consumer electronics market... Small spectrometers can be built into compact devices. For example, we can expect to see new applications linked to smartphones or medical devices used at home."

The only company I've heard of working on consumer spectrometer products is Consumer Physics, completed its Kickstarter campaign in May 2014:


  1. I think the is better technology overall.
    I would love to know what the pricing is.

    And what sensor is in the SCiO?

    1. One of their patents ( mentions a pixel size of 5um, and a wavelength range of 221.4nm in the NIR. Maybe this information can narrow down the search?

  2. What is the advantage of the Hamamatsu spectrometer compared to a hyperspectral imager like this:

    1. A simple explanation.

      The C12666MA is intended for use in a handheld Device and turns the scene viewed into a 'Spectrum Line' (it uses a 256 Pixel CMOS linear image sensor with a slit). It is like taking a Photo of a Prism and cutting a thin 1/8 wide section out of the Photo. It is a line-scan Imager, rather than creating an "Image" it outputs 256 values that tell you the intensity of the Spectrum at each point..

      A Hyperspectral Imager is like the Sensor in your Camera except it is capable of very extreme HDR, and not necessarily including visible light. It may start it's 'range of captured color' past "Red" and continue into the SWIR, MWIR, LWIR ranges. With low quality the Image will look like a "Thermal Camera" that you are used to seeing on TV.

      Modern hyperspectral imagers can have HD resolution and distinguish between chemicals or temperatures with extremely high dynamic range in the case of VLWIR. Most of those devices employ technology that requires extreme cooling (though uncooled is gaining huge ground, for obvious reasons) and not so long ago you needed a Refrigerator (or liquid Nitrogen) hooked up to the Sensor (in a Dewar Flask), IE: not so portable. It is an array Imager, with a very high dynamic range black and white (or false color) Image.

      Page 4 of this PDF illustrates this quite clearly:

    2. Thanks for the explanation. Does that mean that the Hamamatsu spectrometer is way cheaper because of the linear sensor? (very little die space and no lens) or that it might have much higher speed?

      The C12666MA has a spectral resolution of 15 nm in the range 340 - 780 nm, giving 30 bands. According to the PDF you link IMEC snapshot bayer mosaic has 36 bands in the range 470-1000 nm, wich gives me about the same 15 nm spectral resolution. So the Hamamatsu has better coverage in the blue and violet region, while the IMEC has better coverage in NIR.

      The Hamamatsu device measures only one point at a time, while the IMEC device measures a lot of points simultanously.


All comments are moderated to avoid spam and personal attacks.