Moiré fringes increase resolution in multichannel spectrometers

April 28, 2017
Researchers at Osaka University have developed an approach to increase the resolution of multichannel spectrometers.

Researchers at Osaka University (Osaka, Japan) have developed an approach to increase the resolution of multichannel spectrometers.1 Multichannel spectrometers are widely used in spectroscopy because they are compact, strong, and capture high-speed images. However, the resolution of multichannel spectrometers is limited. Improvement of this resolution is currently restricted by the inability to make the entrance slit width smaller than the pixel size; a hurdle known as the "pixel Nyquist limit."

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The researchers are increasing the resolution of multichannel spectrometers beyond the pixel Nyquist limit using Moiré patterns--interference patterns created between two similar overlapping patterns with slightly different pitch, displacement, or rotation. "We used the Moiré effect to enhance the spectral resolution in a multichannel spectrometer," says Tsuyoshi Konishi, lead author of the recently published report on the study. "This allowed us to achieve resolution beyond the pixel Nyquist limit in a multichannel spectrometer for the first time."

The team created the Moiré effect in a commercial multichannel spectrometer using a pair of slit arrays with periods of 100 and 180 μm positioned at the entrance and exit of the spectrometer. The overlap of the patterns from the pair of slit arrays created a Moiré fringe. The image sensor of the spectrometer had a pixel Nyquist limit of 50 nm, so the resolution needed to be smaller than this value. The Moiré fringe generated by the modified spectrometer was able to resolve a wavelength change of just 0.31 nm, overcoming the pixel Nyquist limit. This means that the spectral resolution of the spectrometer was improved by a factor of more than ten from its original resolution of 4.63 nm.

The approach was tested using both a single-wavelength light source and a polychromatic light source consisting of two laser beams of different wavelength. In both cases, the generated Moiré fringe provided resolution beyond the pixel Nyquist limit. Importantly, the developed approach is simple and can be adapted to suit various situations.

"Overcoming the pixel Nyquist limit of a multichannel spectrometer using the Moiré fringe generated by a pair of appropriately positioned slit arrays should facilitate super-resolution imaging of dynamic processes," Konishi explains. "We envisage that multichannel spectrometers with variable spectral resolution will be developed based on this concept."

The researchers say that their work is an important step toward the goal of real-time high-resolution monitoring of dynamic events in fields ranging from biology to astronomy.


1. Tsuyoshi Konishi et al., Optics Express 24, 23, 26583-26598 (2016).

SOURCE: Osaka University via AlphaGalileo;

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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