Public Lab Research note

Spectroscopy & My Life So Far

by 31gane | December 28, 2017 11:12 28 Dec 11:12 | #15440 | #15440

Let me Introduce:

Fortunately i love bicycles, typewriters, radios and other wonderful scientific instruments that are really open and make sense when i can observe them - resulting in a imagination of how would it might work based on the observations of its mechanisms. They call for one's attention, & tears down the fear of breaking down into simple sub-modules to understand how they work, why they work, the complete design, bridging empathy between the labour spent in make it work and the user (me and you). It helps me to appreciate the labour and respect the instrument as a whole when it is open. I believe for most humans it is likely so.

I happen to came across spectrometers in my early years as Research Intern. Very soon i understood their ubiquity and scaling nature, diversity of applications that are built with spectrometers. It is one of those rare scientific instruments that help people to analyse the micro(biological cells...) as well as to analyse the macro(planets, stars...)

I wondered many times why such a useful instrument has not been democratized. I began my search and ended up with discussing with fl@c@t while attempting to complete RAMANPI. Although i am not good at programming or coding i could read the efforts of the initiated team committed to make the project completely knowledge transparent - which actually is necessary in conventional public funded research institutions where still the unnatural "know how and knowledge transfer" process are enforced. I have witnessed them and really felt being in stone ages of research and development, atleast in my country.

With further efforts i found Public Lab in Internet where i believe that people really do take action for which they stand for. Very similar in ethical design of hackerspaces, appropedia, etc... i have been really following the updates and discussions, mailing lists often. But i have been passive so far - just listening.

My Contributions

Since i love spectrometers, spectroscopy and its intrinsic underpinned connections between materials and energy, naturally it guided me to help make the instruments as open as possible. With that thought, and opportunity to design a prototype spectrometer from scratch, using new kind of devices was exciting - and started integrating analog, digital, software, web components together - a NIR AOTF spectrometer.

If you like to read, give a perception or criticize me... just visit my site and start reading this, this & this.

My attention towards spectroscopy and spectrometers turned towards answering the question : How to make it really useful. ? How come most of the society can benefit from it ? If some kind of spectrometer is used in almost every man made satellites launched every now and then, why is it not democratized like a kitchen utility and put into daily usage. After all it has several magnificent usage that has the power to provide people with capabilities ranging from inspection, to measuring nutrition content, pragmatic education - like Telescopy, Microscopy, Magnetic Compass, Sextants, Radio, why not Spectroscopy through spectrometers offered for students. ???

Current Limitations & Emergence

Why not be use it for Bio-Medical applications. However, i have known that the current dominant economic model in operation at global and local level, will eventually pollute the initial good intention as it has already done to many scientific applications - because of its very little/narrowed view of world only in terms of profit and power enclosure.

However on the other hand, with Internet & Web - communities, forums have progressed steadily for decades making active changes in human knowledge, information consumption pattern, both in +ve & -ve ways. After all internet is just a pure networked and informational representation of human society. With participative and collaborative communities, technology has progressed on one hand - where public lab is one such good proof. While on the contrary, we have massive information & technological silos that are always consuming volunteered labour and transforming into social capital, from which further power and profit are pressed out.

I fear that industrial acceleration of production means to deliver products for mass consumption - in the case of scientific instruments will eventually be legally hijacked and knowledge of building it would stay behind the pay walls and law walls. This is where communities, hackerspaces emerge out of frustration, interest, love for hacking, tinkering, playing, curious to observe and change systems - have acted provocatively and brought a progressive change in almost every possible fields.

Such recent examples are : Ultrascope, Public lab's DIY Spectrometers, other instruments in Appropedia & GOSH, OpenLabTools, PLOS - Open Source Toolkit etc., With the help of GNU distros, Open programming Languages, Simulating systems, Modeling paradigms, Open publications, Open Data, Open Design Tools, etc... Open Instrumentation will flourish. Eventually with the help of Open Access movements and Alexandia Elbakyans' effort on has helped me to pursue my scientific temper and interest even after leaving my internship or conventional research practice.

Open Instrument = Open Science + Open Research + Open Data + Open Publication + Open Design + Free S/W + Free H/W

I am going to help wherever possible by writing wiki's, research notes and contributing design ideas, suggestions, programming, etc... in booting a instrument which would evolve into a practically useful tool on par with commercially available paywalled, anti-knowledge instruments. Happy about being a ProdUser with the help of Commons Based Peer Production. Thanks forever Public labs, Hackaday for creating such platforms.


I may be wrong, but it looks like a fast Fourier transform (FFT) version of this instrument is possible. Any suggestions on how to approach that? 73

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I am not clear of which instrument you are suggesting about ? i have mentioned my own work (still will write and share more about it, which i hope will be useful for others), as well as other projects like RAMANPI.

There is a class of spectrometers that work based on Fourier Transform - FT spectrometers which basically collecting interferograms by setting up interference using interferometers (ex: michelson interferometer using moving plates + beamsplitter mechanism). Those are awesome too. Nowadays with SOC's avaialble with inbuilt FT & math abilities can perform them efficiently.

However, the one i worked does not provide a interferogram, instead provide rapid access to any particular spectral response (a or a few particular wavelengths) from direct absorption/emission/reflection spectrum using a grating/pgp/vpg/aotf/lctf diffraction mediums.


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One of the links on the page was for an aotf nir spectrophotometer. Part of this instrument was a vco that could be tuned from 75 mhz to 120 mhz. Although it would require other changes to the system, if the vco was tuned to the center freq and a sine wave fed to the vco thru a high q circuit, it could be a fft instrument. How far off an I? 73

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