The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates characterized human physiology based on the four colors of the different “humors.” Modern medicine is still interested in color when diagnosing disease and other conditions. One of the recent revolutions is the advent of inexpensive “lab on a chip” devices that can take tiny amounts of bodily fluids, and using chemical reagents and markers, detect minute traces of marker compounds. Often, these chips rely on light — either transmitted through the sample or emitted by the sample itself — to provide the diagnostic data. Until recently, spectrometers that can detect the different colors of light have been large and expensive.
NanoLambda is a company that has created the Spectrum Sensor, which is a tiny array that can detect an individual wavelength of light in a sample. These filters can be stacked to create a tiny chip that can measure across the visible light spectrum. They expect that the chip will cost about $10.
An article in EE Times describes different potential applications for this new sensor, including analyzing food samples in the home. This technology could also be used with lab-on-a-chip analytic devices for medical purposes to help with diagnosis and monitor diseases and other conditions.