Portable Acousto-optic Spectrometers

The US Army has developed and patented a portable acousto-optic (AO) spectrometer system that can be used to provide a vibration-insensitive spectroscopic instrument with high sensitivity, accuracy and resolution capabilities.

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Technology Description

The Technology:

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is a leading innovator of optical technologies such as optoelectronics, fiber optics, and acousto-optics.

This invention pertains to the field of acousto-optics (AO) instrumentation. More specifically, it is for an acousto-optic tunable filter (AOTF) based spectrometer that can be used for a variety of spectroscopy applications including absorption, emission, fluorescence, Raman, laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), etc.

The invented spectrometer is electronically tunable with no moving parts, lightweight, compact, and very useful for field-portable applications. Its solid-state construction means it can operate with low power, it is insensitive to vibrations and it runs under computer-control. Moreover, it can provide high spectral resolution. The patented AOTF spectrometer has several advantages over alternative spectrometer designs based on filter wheels, diffraction gratings, and Michelson interferometer. The invented AOTF spectrometer is small, fast, reliable and can be used for applications such as chemical process control, medical diagnostics, spectral radiometry, and real time composition analysis in a production/manufacturing environment. This instrument fulfills an essential requirement for the next-generation spectroscopic instruments.


  • Greater sensitivity compared to other state-of-the-art instruments
  • Solid-state design allows for field-portable spectroscopy applications
  • Compact size, weight and low power requirements
  • Military and commercial applications such as detection of chemical and biological agents, medical and pharmaceutical applications, production and manufacturing control, environmental sensing applications, etc.

The Opportunity:

  • Issued US patent 7,535,617 available for license
  • Potential for collaboration with US Army inventor and laboratory

Supplemental Technical Information:

For more information, contact:
Brian Metzger, PhD (406) 994-7782, brian.metzger@montana.edu

Licensing Instructions:

In order to apply for license to federally owned technologies, regulations require that specific information be provided regarding your company and plans for commercialization. This information will be incorporated in a license agreement which will be provided for your review prior to signature. All provided information will be considered proprietary and held confidential.

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