We spoke to representatives from Si-Ware and Mountain Photonics about the release of Si-Ware's handheld, user-friendly NeoSpectra™ Scanner, where users can obtain analysis results within minutes straight to their mobile device.
Please could you introduce yourself and your role?
Gabriele: My name is Gabriele Straaß and my background is in physics. I am involved in distributing Si-Ware's products for the German, Austrian and Swiss markets. We have a long history together, and I know all of the products and their development history by heart – which has been enormous.
Florian: My name is Florian Eigenmann and I have a background in chemical engineering. I joined Si-Ware at the beginning of the year, and I am responsible for sales and business development in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Could you provide an overview of Si-Ware and the different solutions you offer?
G: Si-Ware has developed the world’s first miniature MEMS FTIR (Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy) chip. This is a very advanced piece of technology. It is based on currently 87 patents and patent applications. This MEMS spectrometer is the heart of all the handy NeoSpectra™ devices.
What I especially like about NeoSpectra™ is that all these NIR spectrometers are included in a very user-friendly software environment. You can use the same mobile app to first analyze materials with the mobile and most versatile NeoSpectra™ Scanner directly in the field, do another analysis later with the compact NeoSpectra™ Puck on your desk, whilst your colleagues in the lab may work with the soon-to-come NeoSpectra™ Solo having an integrated screen.
In parallel, everyone in the team with access rights can see the analysis results in the NeoSpectra™ Portal in real-time.
One of the products Si-Ware is highlighting at Laser World of Photonics is its NeoSpectra™ Scanner. Could you share some information about this product?
G: The NeoSpectra™ Scanner is a user-friendly battery-driven handheld device to take out into the field and measure samples immediately; you just need to put it on the sample, press a button in the app and the material composition is provided.
What makes the Scanner unique is its broad wavelength range, which spans from 1,350 to 2,500 nanometers. This makes its analysis especially precise. Besides, by design and by having a MEMs chip at its core, the device is very rugged.
You can throw it down without any damage. I think that such handheld spectrometers have never been as user-friendly and reliable: you can choose the material you want to measure, take the measurement and you directly receive the analysis result.
NeoSpectra™ Scanner. © Si-Ware
What advantages are characteristic of the device's design?
F: The Scanner's biggest advantage is the fact that it is a handheld instrument that can give nearly the same performance as a benchtop instrument. Therefore, the difference in cost makes the return on investment for customers tremendous.
Another benefit is the fact that the device can handle accessories, which we are currently developing. For example, adding a spinner attachment allow you to analyze a much larger sample size, up to 40 times larger than the original spot size. This gives additional value, especially for anginous samples.
One of the significant aspects of the NeoSpectra™ Scanner is that it offers near-lab quality analysis outside of the lab. What benefits can this Scanner offer to the agricultural sector in particular?
F: We have received a lot of interest from companies, and there are many possibilities where the device can be used. In the agricultural sector, applications include soil analysis, feed analysis, food analysis, and dairy analysis.
For example, if you think of farmers who want to adapt food for their cows, they can measure the composition of their food right away and make any adjustments needed to ensure the cow's health.
Also, if they want to look at the health of the cows, they can use the Scanner to analyze the milk by looking at its fat to protein ratio. Ultimately, this helps to produce high-quality food and beverage products.
We have also just finished a massive ringtest with 40 NeoSpectra™ scanners, performing great for protein and fat in unground corn. It looks like the NeoSpectra™ scanner performs excellently in terms of accuracy and precision which can be compared with traditional benchtop instruments.
How can such handheld, high-quality devices help to optimize the workflow of companies?
F: Many companies will use a large spectrometer for sample analysis, but the benefit of this model is that such analyses can be done in the field, with results on your phone in minutes.
Often, you would have to send the sample to the lab and wait for the results, but with the Scanner, up to 1000 scans can be taken. Informed decisions can be made much quicker.
What other sectors would benefit from the NeoSepctra™ Scanner?
F: The sky is the limit here. The Scanner can be used in industries ranging from chemical to pharmaceutical to moisture testing and more. It really is a nice little device that can do a lot of analysis.
G: As long as the substance you want to measure aligns with the wavelength range from 1,350 to 2,500 nanometer, you can measure almost anything. One surprising application was using the NeoSpectra™ core to measure the damage in human hair. This is an application we definitely didn’t have in mind!
What can we look forward to from Si-Ware in the future?
F: In the future, I expect more companies to deploy analyses on the scanner, with major organizations standardized on the device.
We have also announced our partnership with large corporations, including DairyLand Laboraties Inc and recently NutriControl.
G: In the end, the extensive database these collaborating labs have and the portability of the Scanner is a perfect fit that our customers profit from.
Where can our readers go to stay up to date with Si-Ware?
About Gabriele Straaß
Gabriele has been working in Technical Sales at Mountain Photonics for more than 5 years. Since then, she is responsible for the sales of the NeoSpectra™ devices by Si-Ware Systems in the DACH area. She has been involved in many exciting research projects, including soil analysis at the Swiss Competence Center for Soils and the detection of ripening in grapevine within the DigiVine project of the Fraunhofer IOSB.
On the industrial side, she has established many long-term customer relationships as with Henkel Schwarzkopf for the Salonlab Hair Analyzer, always in close cooperation with Si-Ware Systems. Gabriele obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Physics with a focus on theoretical solid-state physics from the KIT in Karlsruhe in 2013 and a master’s degree in Physics focusing on biophysics and human mesenchymal stem cell research from the University of Göttingen in 2016.
About Florian Eigenmann, Ph.D.
Florian has more than 20 years of experience in spectroscopy. Before joining Si-Ware, Florian was with Bruker Optics Molecular Spectroscopy division for 10 years. While in Switzerland, he built a strong sales team that accomplished market-leading growth in the Swiss market. Next, he joined the Bruker North American team, serving as business development manager in near-infrared, with a focus on the agriculture, food and feed market.
Florian then returned to Europe, where he was responsible for growing the ReactIR business at Mettler-Toledo AutoChem, successfully driving them to become the market leader for reaction monitoring with in-situ spectroscopy. Most recently, Florian was global head of sales at IRsweep, a young spin-off company from ETH, with a cutting-edge spectrometer based on midIR QCL frequency combs. Florian is a chemical engineer and received his Ph.D. from ETH in 2005.
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