Imec’s prototype hyperspectral camera can capture multiple types of data about materials or different parts of the same object. This could help in the development of automatic object classification systems that rival those used in state-of-the-art hyperspectral references and recorded spectra of plant material. The innovation could lead to small, cost-efficient cameras that can be adapted easily into vision systems.
The prototype chip's hyperspectral filter, which Imec developed, has 100 spectral bands between 560nm and 1,000nm. The filter bandwidth ranges from 3nm at 560nm to 20nm at 1,000nm, and the transmission efficiency is approximately 85 percent. Under illumination by a 450W halogen light, the prototype's typical image integration times are between 2 and 10 milliseconds.
Imec has been working on the development of a hyperspectral sensor for some time, based on its research reports from 2010 and 2009. Some of those efforts targeted machine vision, medical, and security applications.
The speed of Imec's demonstration system corresponds to an equivalent line speed of 2,000 lines per second -- much faster than current hyperspectral sensors. To adapt the technology to different industrial vision application requirements, a different commercially available or custom image sensor could be substituted with different pixel sizes and frame rates. The number of spectral bands and the spectral resolution of the hyperspectral filters can also be changed.
Having seen spectroscopy systems in the semiconductor industry in the 1980s, this seems like about as small a package as I can ever remember. Is this indeed smaller than the current state of the art? Has anyone else used a system on a chip approach like this one, Ann?
There's a large number of apps that could take advantage of this technology. Industrial machine vision and inspection of chips, boards and electronics sub-assemblies, R&D of several different kinds including component failure and analysis labs, medical labs of various kinds, and medical equipment manufacturing. It could possibly also be used in various kinds of materials detection, possibly in security apps, as well as for detecting counterfeit components made of inferior materials.
What I like most about this technology is the huge difference in size between other multispectral cameras I've written about in the past and the fact that this is a chip-level solution, even doing post-processing filters on-chip. I think the need for this technology will only continue to increase as design features keep getting smaller, and with the mixes of multiple material types.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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