A spectrometer analyses light to establish what substances are present in gases and liquids. The gas exuded by a piece of fruit, for example, could indicate if it were over—ripe or rotting at the core.
Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems and the Technical University in Dresden designed the tiny spectrometer
According to a report in Technology Review, shoppers using a suitable phone could produce a reading by holding their phones next to a product and interpret the results using an app.
Researchers believe the spectrometer could also be adapted for other uses, such as measuring blood sugar levels in diabetics or sniffing out explosives at airports.
The spectrometer functions with the help of tiny gold threads, measuring only a couple of nanometres in length.
It remains unclear when the equipment will be ready for sale on the open market.DPA