New Research published as 1 April 2021 / MIT / Materials Research Laboratory

A breakthrough  research on development of prototype which could turn cell phones into sensors capable of detecting viruses and other minuscule objects in future.

This multifunctional platform developed for miniaturizing Raman and IR, fluorescence spectroscopic analysis, and produce high throughput and high-resolution lab-on-chip sensors for both excitation and detection.

This compact hardware geometry with use of SILICON PHOTONICS , which is more  flexible, low-cost, and scalable approaches
to implement such solutions at a low-cost with high volume production by enabling on-chip spectroscopic sensing and imaging techniques in the fields of medicine and biology.

How They Did It

Step 1:  overall design created using multiple computer modeling tools.

(These included conventional approaches based on the physics involved in the propagation and manipulation of light, and more cutting-edge machine-learning techniques in which the computer is taught to predict potential solutions using huge amounts of data. “If we show the computer many examples of nano flashlights, it can learn how to make better flashlights. We can then tell the computer the pattern of light that we want, and it will tell us what the design of the flashlight needs to be.)

All of these modeling tools have advantages and disadvantages; together they resulted in a final, optimal design that can be adapted to create flashlights with different kinds of light beams.

Step 2:  Use that design to create a specific flashlight with a collimated beam, or one in which the rays of light are perfectly parallel to each other. Collimated beams are key to some types of sensors. The overall flashlight that the researchers made involved some 500 rectangular nanoscale structures of different dimensions that the team’s modelling predicted would enable a collimated beam. Nanostructures of different dimensions would lead to different kinds of beams that in turn are key to other applications.

The tiny flashlight with a collimated beam worked. Not only that, it provided a beam that was five times more powerful than is possible with conventional structures. That’s partly because being able to control the light better means that less is scattered and lost.

It’s possible to see through a microscope what is designed on a computer.

Research Access Link